The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Alfa Romeo Returns to Formula 1, But Only By Name


Ferrari engines for Swiss Sauber F1 Team

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

THE HAGUE, November 30, 2017. After 30 years, Alfa Romeo is returning to Formula 1. But it will be only by name and logo. The Italian brand that is owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) signed a partnership agreement for an undisclosed number of years with the Swiss Sauber Formula 1 Team. The agreement includes strategic, commercial and technical cooperation For development in the broadest sense. However, it is about the Ferrari engines which will – again - be available for Sauber. Alfa Romeo will serve as the team's official title sponsor.

The 2017 Formula 1 season went well for the Ferrari works team, with a second place in the FIA World Constructors Championship. Sauber, on the other hand, has been struggling with drivers and the 2016 Ferrari engines. With just 5 points, the team finished last.

Last April, Sauber confirmed it would end their engine deal with Ferrari and begin a new contract with Honda engines next year. However, in July, it was announced that Sauber had canceled their planned partnership for ‘strategic reasons’. The following day the Swiss confirmed their new agreement with Ferrari for up-to-date engines starting in 2018. Yesterday, Sauber announced to have signed a multi-year technical and commercial partnership contract with Alfa Romeo, therefore the team will be renamed to Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for the 2018 season onwards. Pascal Picci, Chairman of Sauber Holding AG, commented in a release: “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. 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.”

In pre-war Grand Prix racing, Alfa’s like the P2 and P3 were winners on a regular basis until the Mercedes and Auto Union cars came around in 1934. By this time, Alfa had withdrawn temporarily as a manufacturer from racing, but continued to give direct support to privateers Enzo Ferrari.

From 1934 to the start of World War II, Alfa rarely won and their cars looked outdated and badly built compared to the high-tech Mercedes Silver Arrows. Alfa was able to make the 158 for the 1938 season, although this car was competitive against the Silver Arrows. Alfa continued to use the 158 from 1946 to 1949 in the new Formula One World Championship and dominated post-WWII racing from 1946 to 1949- winning every Grand Prix they entered with the exception of 3.

Alfa Romeo participated in Formula 1 from 1950 to 1985 as a constructor and engine supplier.