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"Flattered" Szafnauer leaves 'wriggle room' over Alpine switch rumours

"Flattered" Szafnauer leaves 'wriggle room' over Alpine switch rumours

F1 News

"Flattered" Szafnauer leaves 'wriggle room' over Alpine switch rumours

"Flattered" Szafnauer leaves 'wriggle room' over Alpine switch rumours
Ian Parkes & Sam Hall

Otmar Szafnauer has failed to categorically rule out a future move to Alpine despite pledging his loyalty to Aston Martin.

Rumours have been swirling of late around Szafnauer, who joined the Silverstone-based team when it was then known as Force India in 2009.

Although confirming he has a "long-term" contract in place at Aston Martin, Szafnauer repeatedly refused to deny the speculation he claims stemmed from a jokey chat with Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.

Read the complete exchange here...

There are many rumours in the paddock linking you with a switch to the Alpine team. What is the situation?

"I, too, read those rumours a couple of days ago and I was as surprised as anybody else.

"But I want to say it is always humbling and flattering for people to say, if Alpine are reorganising, I think Laurent Rossi said that in Mexico, and for the media to speculate that I could be wanted there. It is always nice to be wanted."

Where do these rumours come from do you think?

"I don't know. The first I saw was Auto Hebdo and not being French, I don't know who they are. Then I think it was translated into English from what my colleagues in the press office tell me."

Has your boss, Lawrence Stroll, asked for a clarification?

"Asked me for a clarification? No. He wasn't in Mexico and he is not here. He wasn't feeling well.

"I'm sure I will catch up with him during the weekend but we haven't talked about rumours. There is lots of stuff that goes on in the media that we don't talk about."

In your answers a couple of minutes ago and in your statement on Instagram, you left a bit of room for interpretation. Are you prepared to close down the rumour by saying that what was written by Auto Hebdo was an invention and you are not talking to and have not talked to anybody from Alpine about joining them in the future?

"I don't have the ability and the pleasure of reading French so I'm not sure what they wrote, so it is hard for me to say."

Will you be with Aston Martin next year? Can you say that categorically?

"That is a good question and look, I have been at the team for 12 years. I have no intention of leaving. I love this team.

"Most of the senior managers, especially through Racing Point and the senior leadership team, was recruited and put there by myself and I have no intentions of leaving them.

"I have been loyal to this team. I've had many, many offers in the 12 years that I have been working for this team, especially in the days of the bankruptcy and insolvency.

"I could have left many times but I'm loyal to the employees there."

Are you absolutely not joining Alpine at any stage in the very near future at all? Yes or no.

"I love the question but, I learned a long, long time ago that predicting the future is an impossibility. If I could do that, I would be in Vegas now."

A simple yes or no. Have you had contact with Alpine about a job?

"This year, for example, there are many, many teams that have contacted me and I think it was, I was sitting next to Laurent Rossi when [Jonathan] McEvoy [from the Daily Mail] asked if Aston Martin were recruiting a CEO to take my job.

"I knew nothing of that and jokingly Rossi said 'Oh, if you're leaving, come talk to us' and that was about it.

"I don't know if that is what sparked the Auto Hebdo article."

Does that mean you haven't had any contact with Laurent or anyone at Alpine since that happened about potentially working for them?

"Like I said, I'm fully committed to the team I'm in. I've been there forever. I have no intentions of leaving...forever is 12 years so maybe not forever, but half my career.

"I've got to focus on the rest of the season. The season hasn't gone quite to what we thought it was going to, how it was going to go. So we've got to focus on these next races and score as many points as we can.

"That is what I'll be doing."

Do you have a contract in place with Aston Martin for next year?

"I'm always reticent to disclose contractual details but I can tell you I have a long-term contract in place with Aston."

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