“Where will you go, Marcin?” And Budkowski, dressed in a tuxedo at the FIA gala, replied with a smile: “To bed!” The question had several meanings, It was a fact that the future of the Alpine F1 Team boss was in doubt once Luca de Meo’s interest in hiring Otmar Szafnauer, head of Aston Martin, became known until a few weeks ago. AS reported these moves in December and now, the pieces fit together: after Szafnauer parted ways with the English team earlier this year, this Thursday Alpine has confirmed through a brief statement Budkowski’s departure with no known destination.
Marcin, 44, a French engineer of Polish origin, came to Renault in 2018 from the FIA and at the time was one of the most talked about movements in the paddock, because his technical position allowed him to know secrets of all the cars before calling at Enstone. But there are changes, De Meo and Lauren Rossi, CEO of Alpine, want to give another turn after doing without, a year ago, Cyril Abiteboul. Alpine’s numbers weren’t bad in 2021, fifth car in the constructors’ championship plus a historic victory for Ocon at the Hungarian GP and a no less historic podium for Alonso in Qatar. The first in seven years for him. But not enough, and De Meo continues testing in search of the starting eleven.
It is a matter of time before the replacement is appointed, who will be Otmar Szafnauer. 57-year-old American of Romanian origin, his F1 pedigree is given to him by Force India, which was then Racing Point and now it is Aston Martin, because with a reduced budget he managed to create a team capable of getting on the podium. But in the ‘paddock’ there are also doubts about what Alpine is going to be in 2022, because so many changes are never a good sign. At some point, it has been rumored with the departure of several members of the ‘staff’, such as Brivio or Permane, who are still continuing.
“I am grateful to Marcin Budkowski for his commitment and contribution over the past four years. The team is focused on getting the car ready for the first race in Bahrain”Says Rossi. The 2022 Alpine will have to complete its first ignition in the next few days, without incident, while they continue to refine the details in the wind tunnel for the tests in Barcelona (23-25 February) and Bahrain (before the grand prix) . These are important weeks for the car that Alonso and Ocon will drive. And they are plagued with changes, many changes.