Ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher believes Haas should make a move for Otmar Szafnauer, who was fired as Alpine’s team principal mid-July last year.
Szafnauer was infamously left the Enstone-based side by “mutual agreement” following last season’s Belgian Grand Prix, although he was seen leaving the paddock before the race had even started.
He’s, therefore, been without a job for six months and Schumacher thinks Haas can offer him a route back into the sport.
2023’s bottom-placed side have undergone a series leadership change ahead of the 2024 F1 season, with Guenther Steiner’s contract having not been extended at the end of 2023.
As a result, he has departed the team with Ayao Komatsu having been promoted into his role.
Prior to his promotion, Komatsu had been Haas’ trackside engineering director, meaning he’s another team principal with a strong engineering background.
This should improve Haas’ performances on the circuit; however, team owner Gene Haas is also wanting a chief operating officer (COO) to take care of the team principal duties away from the circuit.
It’s in this area where Komatsu severely lacks experience, which is one of the reasons why Schumacher thinks Szafnauer would be ideal for the COO role.
Schumacher points out that the ex-Alpine boss has “expertise” in F1 and is also capable of spotting young talent, a trait the ex-F1 driver likes about Szafnauer.
“Otmar is someone who is well-known in Formula 1 and who also has expertise,” Schumacher told Formel1.de.
“One thing is technical expertise, but the other thing is to go out and look for good minds, sometimes at universities. Having this foresight and generating new people to take the team forward is a skill that I trust Otmar to have.”
Another ex-team boss currently available is Mattia Binotto, who has been without a job since departing Ferrari at the end of the 2022 season.
Schumacher believes Szafnauer is a better option for Haas than the former Ferrari boss, who he thinks is “more associated”with a switch to Audi.
“I can’t imagine Mattia Binotto doing that,” added Schumacher. “He’s also more associated with Audi, but I don’t quite see how that fits in with Andreas Seidl. I’m curious about that.”