The Sauber F1 team will henceforth be known as the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team from 2018 onwards. The two companies have entered into a multi-year agreement. The deal includes “strategic, commercial and technological cooperation” and “the exchange of engineering and technical know-how”, said a Sauber statement. An Alfa tie-up was crucial with regard to an enhanced partnership between Ferrari and Sauber.
Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne was keen to bring the Alfa name back to F1 for the first time since 1985. Marchione said, “This agreement with the Sauber F1 team is a significant step in the reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand, which will return to Formula 1 after an absence of more than 30 years. 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.”
The Swiss team is expected to field Ferrari protege and Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc next season. They also have to decide whether to continue with Marcus Ericsson or replace him with Leclerc’s fellow Ferrari junior, Antonio Giovinazzi.
Sauber chairman Pascal Picci said Alfa was an ideal partner for his team. Picci said, “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. Working closely with a car manufacturer is a great opportunity for the Sauber Group to further develop its technology and engineering projects. We are confident that together we can bring the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team great success, and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
Alfa last raced in F1 1985, and has not had a high-profile motorsport programme since its touring car efforts of the 1990s and early 2000s.
However, this leaves a couple of unanswered questions, where will Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein go?