Alpine boss suggests teams are colluding, urges FIA to ‘close the loopholes’

Otmar Szafnauer left Aston Martin for Alpine over the winter after 12 years with the Silverstone squad.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has indicated that some teams may be sharing an excess of information with others on the grid, leading him to emphasise the importance of a fair sport.

Formula 1’s technical regulations changed radically ahead of the 2022 season and, as ground effect aerodynamics made a return, a completely different design philosophy was necessitated, meaning that a few different design concepts were introduced over the winter.

As a legacy of that, it would not be a wild assumption to deduce that it is unlikely for certain parts of the cars to be designed in the same manner, but Szanauer observes that this is exactly what has happened between some teams.

READ: ‘Two popes is not possible’: Szafnauer suggests too much involvement from Stroll pushed him to leave

“I’ve seen solutions on a couple of cars that you’d think ‘how the hell did two independent teams come up with that?’” he said, as quoted by GP Fans.

“I don’t know how to solve it but I think an even playing field within Formula 1 is something that is important.

“We have to work with the FIA to solve that, because like I said, you guys too can have a look out there and think how did these two teams independently come up with that solution, especially when there’s a rule change.

“Nobody knows what the solutions are going to be until you see them, so how did you come up with that?

“In time, people look and try it in the tunnel but not right out of the box. An even playing field is important.”

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Both F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and managing director Ross Brawn noted before the beginning of the season that there was an inevitability that some teams would attempt to exploit certain loopholes in the regulations, but perhaps unforeseen was the potential for teams to share vital information on parts of the car influential to performance.

Ironically, this is something Szafneuer’s Racing Point team were fined 40,000 euros for in 2020 when they copied part of Mercedes’ 2019 challenger, but he affirms that the FIA has a responsibility to “figure out how to close these loopholes.”

“I still think there are some loopholes where people who share tunnels can exploit,” he explained.

He detailed just how easy it is to absorb crucial information from other teams, particularly when they share the same wind tunnel, as Aston Martin and Mercedes do, for instance.

“If you’re sharing tunnels and you’re in the same place at the same time and you’re having coffee with other aerodynamicists, there are ways to exploit it,” he added.

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Szafnauer left Aston Martin at the end of the 2021 season to join Alpine, and has since testified that there were simply too many key figures at the helm of Lawrence Stroll’s team.