Sauber has announced they have reached a multiyear technical and commercial deal with the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo from 2018. Alfa who are part of the same group as Ferrari will be the team’s title sponsor from next season.
However, Ferrari will continue to supply the Swiss team’s power units badged as Alfa Romeo. Sauber is no stranger to technical partnerships as they were formally the BMW works teams in the late 2000’s.
Since Fiat-Chrysler and Ferrari president, Sergio Marchionne took over as the company’s president he has made it clear he wanted to get Alfa back on the grid. Alfa last competed as a team in Formula One in 1985, their team
The deal between the two has been called a ‘strategic, commercial and technological cooperation between Alfa Romeo and the Sauber F1 Team.’ In a statement, Marchionne 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.”
When Sauber’s team principal Fred Vasseur announced the team would retaining Ferrari power units despite a deal with Honda, he said the cancelling the deal was “for strategic reasons, and with the best intent or the future of the Sauber F1 Team in mind.”
Sauber is yet to confirm the driver line up for 2018, but this announcement is excepted to add to the expectation that at least one Ferrari junior driver, expected to be Formula Two champion Charles Leclerc, to get a seat with the team.
The deal will be seen important for the teams bid to move further up the grid. This season, Sauber finished bottom of the constructor’s championship.
This year Sauber expanded its partnership with Ferrari, which will see the team return to a current power unit next year.
Sauber was brought by the Swiss group Longbow Finance in mid-2016. They then removed Monisha Kaltenborn in July and replaced as team principal her with Vassuer.
Sauber’s chairman Pascal Picci said “”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.”
“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.”
Alfa Romeo won the first two drivers championships with Nino Farina and Juan-Manuel Fangio respectively in 1950-51. After pulling out, Alfa Romeo returned in 1979 but struggled for results over six seasons.