Fiat Group chairman John Elkann has reportedly been given the option to buy the Sauber F1 team. The Swiss outfit was recently renamed Alfa Romeo Racing for the upcoming 2019 season and beyond.
Just a few days ago, it was announced that Alfa Romeo would increase their association with the Sauber team by changing the team name altogether to Alfa Romeo Racing for 2019, bringing an end to the Sauber name in Formula One.
The Hinwil-based company is still owned by Islero Investments AG, which was set up by Longbow Finance (who bought Sauber from Peter Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn in 2016) to run the team.
Sauber increased their links with power unit suppliers Ferrari, and formed a technical and branding partnership with Fiat Group-owned Alfa Romeo in 2018.
According to reports by Autobild, the Fiat Group paid six millions euros to change the name of the team for 2019, and they have until the summer to decide if they want to buy the team altogether.
Such a move would likely increase the amount of political sway that Ferrari and the Fiat Group have in voicing their opinions on the direction of Formula One, which will undergo a regulation change for the 2021 season, when the current Concorde Agreement expires.
However, the Fiat Group may decide that such a move is not necessary. Given the close ties with Ferrari, it would be a surprise if Alfa Romeo Racing completely deviates away from Ferrari’s aims for the 2021 regulations.
Alfa Romeo Racing will field 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari academy driver Antonio Giovinazzi for the 2019 season. The team have promised massive changes and will be hoping to fight for points on a more consistent basis.