Sergio Perez pleads for more time for F1 strugglers as surprise exit confirmed

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Sergio Perez raced under Otmar Szafnauer at Racing Point Force India (Image: Getty Images)
Sergio Perez raced under Otmar Szafnauer at Racing Point Force India (Image: Getty Images)

Sergio Perez admitted his shock at learning his former boss Otmar Szafnauer had been ousted by Alpine.

The 58-year-old had served as the Enstone squad's team principal for a little over 18 months. But the axe fell at the Belgian Grand Prix, while long-serving sporting director Alan Permane is also out.

It came amid a disagreement between Szafnauer and the Renault board regarding expectations in the short-term. Alpine sit sixth in the constructors' standings with a significant gap to McLaren above them and also Haas and Williams below.

The Renault top brass felt the team should be performing much better, while Szafnauer felt expectations were too high given the amount of investment put into the team and time he had been given to make an impact.

So his departure was announced during the Belgian GP weekend and he officially left on Monday. The whole situation caught Perez, who secured his first Formula 1 victory with Racing Point, when Szafnauer was team boss there, off guard.

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"I was quite surprised with it, given how short notice it was," said the Red Bull racer. "I think Otmar is great. For any person in that position, you have got to give them time.

Sergio Perez pleads for more time for F1 strugglers as surprise exit confirmedPerez feels Szafnauer should have been given more time (HOCH ZWEI/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

"Otmar lacked time to really show his potential which I know is huge, because I've seen what he's done in other teams with very limited budgets, and with not-so-limited budgets as well.

"I think it's a shame that they let him move on. I think whoever comes needs to have proper time, because all these things in Formula 1 takes massive time."

Szafnauer remained in his post until the conclusion of the race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. And he played a part in one last memorable moment for the team, as Pierre Gasly raced to third place in the Saturday Sprint.

After the main Grand Prix, he spent some time with staff in the motorhome and garage before leaving, and his final message before leaving the paddock very much had them in mind. He said: "For me personally, I'll be alright and I'm fine. It's just my worry is for all the wonderful men and women at Enstone and Viry that work hard and do a good job. I hope their future is bright.

"I was just getting into my stride, starting to know everybody, how to motivate them. You know, a high tide lifts all boats, and I was just getting to the point where I was raising the tide. There were people, not me so much, but people crying and saying goodbye. I told them, 'Look, I'm still alive, I didn't die! I'll be all right.'"

Daniel Moxon

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