Sergio Marchionne has gotten his wish: Alfa Romeo will make its Formula 1 comeback in 2018. It was rumored that the Turin automaker could become an integral part of Sauber's team next season, bolstering the Swiss outfit's relationship with its engine and technology partner, Ferrari. Marchionne has defined the deal as "a multi-year technical and commercial partnership agreement" between the two companies and starting next season, Alfa Romeo will serve as the team's official title sponsor.
The move was made as part of a supposed arrangement that will also land Ferrari junior Charles LeClerc in a Sauber F1 seat come March of next year. By incorporating these bits and pieces of the Maranello-based organization into its operations, Sauber expects to gain closer customer support as well as a major boom in global branding. Team chairman Pascal Picci explained his excitement for the news in an official statement:
"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."
Antonio Giovinazzi, another member of the Ferrari driver program, is competing for the second Sauber seat against Marcus Ericcson. With the team expected to reveal its lineup in January, this could draw it even closer with Ferrari, putting two of its most talented youngsters at the helm of an F1 car next season.
Marchionne commented on the agreement and explained how Alfa Romeo will use it as a major stepping stone towards improved global recognition:
“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 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.”
While Alfa Romeo's logo appeared on Ferrari's F1 cars in 2017, next season will be the marque's first full-fledged Grand Prix program since 1985. Its fabled history dates back to the early success of Juan Manuel Fangio in 1950 and 1951, paving a storied path for Alfa after gaining its first world championships in the series.
The crew's proper name will be Alfa Romeo Sauber F1.