The Sauber F1 Team has entered into a multi-year commercial and strategic partnership with Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo.
The historic Alfa Romeo name will return to the Formula One grid from the start of the 2018 season as title sponsor of the Swiss team, which will be known as Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. The sports car brand, which is part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), will provide Sauber with strategic, engineering and technological advice throughout their alliance.
Although the 2018 car will bear the Alfa Romeo logo, it will be equipped with power units from Ferrari, which is also owned by FCA.
Alfa Romeo’s return to the sport after an absence of more than 30 years is thought to have been driven by Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of FCA and chairman of Ferrari, who wants Ferrari development drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc to replace Marcus Ericsson and German’s Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber from next year – creating a relationship with Sauber rather like Torro Rosso have with Red Bull.
Giovinazzi made his Formula One Grand Prix debut for Sauber at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix, replacing an injured Wehrlein. It is understood that Sauber team principal Fred Vasseur is still deciding whether Ericsson or Giovinazzi would take the second seat alongside Leclerc.
“This agreement with the Sauber F1 Team is a significant step in the reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand, which will return to Formula One after an absence of more than 30 years,” said Marchionne. “A storied marque that has helped make the history of this sport, Alfa Romeo will join other major automakers that participate in Formula One.
“Alfa Romeo fans will once again have the opportunity to support an automaker that is determined to begin writing an exciting new chapter in its unique, legendary sporting history.”
Pascal Picci, chairman of Sauber Holding, added: “We are very pleased to welcome Alfa Romeo to the Sauber F1 Team. Alfa Romeo has a long history of success in Grand Prix racing, and we are very proud that this internationally renowned company has chosen to work with us for its return to the pinnacle of motorsport.”
In 2017 Sauber finished bottom of the conductors’ championship with the team’s drivers picking up only five points from the season’s 20 races.