Aston Martin have confirmed that CEO and team principal Otmar Szafnauer has left the team with immediate effect.
He was linked with a move to the Alpine F1 Team back in November, but he denied having plans of leaving Aston Martin.
Szafnauer originally joined the outfit back in 2009 when it was named Force India.
He oversaw the team’s first-ever pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix that year through Giancarlo Fisichella, as well as their first podium through the Italian that same season.
Following severe legal issues surrounding the team’s founder and former team principal Vijay Mallya, Szafnauer was promoted to the team principal position midway through 2018.
He guided the outfit through a transitional phase under new owner Lawrence Stroll who, together with a consortium of investors, rescued the team from collapse.
The Romanian-American led the newly renamed Racing Point Force India team through the latter part of the 2018 season, before the rebrand to Racing Point in 2019.
Szafnauer was largely responsible for bringing Sebastian Vettel into the team to replace the outgoing Sergio Perez after the German was announced to be leaving Ferrari at the end of 2020.
Vettel has since scored points on seven occasions – one of which came by way of a podium at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June.
Aston Martin confirmed Szafnauer’s departure in a statement released on Wednesday.
“Otmar Szafnauer has left the company and his role at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team will be managed within the leadership team until a replacement is appointed,” the Silverstone-based team said.
“We would like to thank him for the service provided to the team over the past 12 years and wish him well for the future as he will undoubtedly take on new challenges.”
Aston Martin maintained that they have the personnel to cover Szafnauer’s vacated position until they are able to find a permanent replacement.
“Fortunately, we are led and managed by a strong group of individuals, and we are comfortable to take a little time to explore options before announcing a new team structure.
“The focus of the team is currently on preparing the most competitive car possible for the start of the 2022 season.”
Aston Martin ended the 2021 season seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, with Vettel and Lance Stroll ending 12th and 13th, respectively, in the Drivers’ Standings.