The legendary Alfa Romeo brand is returning to Formula 1 racing following three decades of absence, after Fiat Chrysler struck a deal with Switzerland’s Sauber F1 Team that will see the outfit renamed the “Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team”. Sauber’s cars will get 2018-spec Ferrari Formula 1 engines and wear the Alfa Romeo logo, providing Alfa some visibility in the world’s most prestigious motorsport series.
“This agreement with the Sauber F1 Team is a significant step in the reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand, says Fiat Chrysler CEO and Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne. “A storied marque that has helped make the history of this sport, Alfa Romeo will join other major automakers that participate in Formula 1. The brand itself will also benefit from the sharing of technology and strategic know-how with a partner of the Sauber F1 Team’s undisputed experience.”
At the same time, Alfa Romeo engineers and technicians will support the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team starting with the 2018 season, and fans will “have the opportunity to support an automaker that is determined to begin writing an exciting new chapter in its unique, legendary sporting history,” Marchionne says.
Sauber F1 used Ferrari engines in its Formula 1 cars from 1997 to 2005, and again from 2010 to the present day. The Swiss team very nearly struck a deal to use Honda engines from 2018 onward, but that fell through, leading to a renewed partnership with Ferrari, and an opportunity to get the Alfa Romeo brand back out in front of F1 fans.
Alfa Romeo has a long, celebrated history in Formula 1 racing that can be traced back to its back-to-back F1 championships in 1950 and 1951. The automaker pulled out of competition for 1952, serving as an engine supplier from 1961 and eventually launching a new factory works team that ran from 1979 through 1985.
Like most fans, we’d sure like to see a new Alfa Romeo works team compete in F1 with its own engine, chassis, and support crew, but FCA’s new partnership with the Sauber F1 Team is a welcome development nonetheless.