Team principal Otmar Szafnauer has left Aston Martin ahead of the 2022 season in a move that has completely stunned the F1 world.

Szafnauer joined the team in 2009 back when it was called Force India. He remained at the helm through all those years and the two transformations into Racing Point and the current Aston Martin.

Under his leadership, the team has been a constant threat in the F1 midfield. They have taken a few podiums over the years, including a stunning last-to-first victory at the 2020 Sakhir GP through Sergio Perez.

However, Szafanuer has left Aston Martin ahead of the 2022 season, with the team announcing the departure through social media. It has been speculated that Lawrence Stroll was far from happy with the result the team managed despite sizeable investment last season.

“Otmar Szafnauer has left the Company and his role at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 Team will be managed within the leadership team until a replacement is appointed,” the statement read, as quoted by MotorSport Magazine.

“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.

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Szafnauer (pictured) has left Aston Martin. Source: motorsportmagazine.com

“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.”

Shock and surprise

Back when Szafnauer was linked with an exit from the team, he said, “I’ve 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’ve been loyal to this team – I’ve had many, many offers in the 12 years I’ve 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.

“I’m always reticent to disclose contractual details, but I can tell you I have a long-term contract in place with Aston.”

Read more: Szafnauer describes what makes Vettel “a man of integrity”

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