The Alfa Romeo brand will return to Formula 1 in 2018 as a partner to Sauber and Ferrari, ending a more than 30-year absence from the grid.
Sauber confirmed on Wednesday that it has finalized a “multi-year technical and commercial partnership” with Alfa Romeo, which is part of the Fiat Chrysler Group. Under the deal, the team will be known as the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team, and the 2018 car will carry Alfa Romeo logos and use 2018 Ferrari power units.
According to a team statement, the “strategic, commercial and technical cooperation” between Alfa Romeo and Sauber will include technical and engineering exchange between the two groups, and open the door to new opportunities for the organizations “in Formula 1 and beyond”.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said that he is delighted to see the storied brand return to the grid for the first time since 1985.
“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,” he said.
“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 Alfa Romeo engineers and technicians, who have already demonstrated their capabilities with the newly-launched models, Giulia and Stelvio, will have the opportunity to make that experience available to the Sauber F1 Team. At the same time, 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.”
Sauber chairman Pascal Picci also welcomed the new arrangement.
“We are very pleased to welcome Alfa Romeo to the Sauber F1 Team,” he 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 Romeo’s roots in the sport date back to F1’s formative years: the sport’s first two world champions, Nino Farina and Juan Manual Fangio, won the 1950 and 1951 crowns respectively driving Alfas. The most recent iteration of its works team closed in 1985 (above).
Ferrari-aligned Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc is expected to occupy one of Sauber’s seats next season, with fellow Ferrari protégé Antonio Giovinazzi and incumbent driver Marcus Ericsson under consideration for the second car.