Szafnauer signed Perez to Force India in 2014 after the Mexican driver had been jettisoned by McLaren after one season in which he finished a disappointing 11th in the drivers' standings.
Perez went on to be a mainstay of the Force India team that went on to morph into Racing Point following Lawrence Stroll's takeover from Vijay Mallya in 2018.
After seven seasons working with Szafnauer, Perez signed for Red Bull ahead of the 2021 season.
Szafnauer left Racing Point a year later to take up the team principal role with Alpine, only to be axed after 18 months in charge due to a difference of opinion over the planned timing of the team's bid to become a frontrunner.
Perez has conceded to feeling “quite surprised given how short notice it was”, given Alpine confirmed Szafnauer's departure, and that of long-serving sporting director Alan Permane, just before qualifying on Friday for the recent Belgian Grand Prix.
“I think Otmar is great, and any person in that position, you've got to give them time,” said Perez.
“And I think 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. It's a shame they let him move.”
For now, executive director Bruno Famin, who joined Alpine at the same time as Szafnauer, with his responsibility of developing the power unit, has taken on the interim team principal position.
Former Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, who has been out of F1 since he left the Scuderia at the end of last year, has been heavily linked with the position.
Perez is hoping that whoever is appointed is given the time required to develop the project.
He added: “Whoever comes needs to have proper time because all these things in Formula 1 take a massive (amount of) time.”