Back at the pinnacle of world motorsport

Alfa Romeo returns to Formula 1 in partnership with Sauber

Alfa Romeo is one of the most iconic names in world motorsport, and this year it returns to the pinnacle of the sport after a 30-year absence in Formula 1.

The Alfa brand was the undisputed champion of pre-war Grand Prix, with its GP Tipo 2 dominating the first World Championship.

This helped establish Alfa Romeo as one of the leading symbols of Italian engineering and style, an icon of Italy’s technological excellence and creative spirit.

This position as one of the world’s most desirable premium brands endures to this day and its return to F1 is expected to contribute significantly to the appeal and development of the sport.

Alfa Romeo’s return to F1 follows it signing a multi-year technical and commercial partnership agreement with Swiss Sauber F1 Team, which will see the team called Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team.

The single-seaters will sport the distinctive colours and logo of Alfa Romeo, the team’s title sponsor, and will be powered by 2018 Ferrari engines.

The agreement includes strategic, commercial and technological cooperation in all applicable areas of development, including access to engineering know-how and the expertise of Alfa Romeo technical staff. 

“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,” says Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA.

“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 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.”

Participation in the championship will also bring benefits for the brand in areas such as technology transfer and road safety.

Pascal Picci, chairman of Sauber Holding AG, added: “We are 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 we look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

Alfa Romeo’s racing history began in the early 1920s when it was a dominant force in Grand Prix, winning the first world championship in 1925. The brand later participated in F1 from 1950 to 1988, both as a constructor and engine supplier.

Its participation started with a golden era. Its factory 158s, with their 1.5-litre supercharged eight-cylinder engines, dominated the first F1 World Championship.

It took all three podium places in the first race at Silverstone, and had at least two cars on the podium in all but one of the six races. Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio won three events each as Farina went on to win the title.

It was a success that Fangio repeated the following year for the first of his five world titles.

From 1961 to 1979, Alfa Romeo participated as engine supplier to several F1 teams. 

Following its return as a constructor in 1979, Alfa Romeo achieved its best result in 1983, taking sixth place in the constructors’ championship. 

It withdrew from the race series in 1988, but is now returning with the clear intention to make its mark.

The drivers

Two of the sport’s most promising drivers will spearhead Alfa Romeo’s return to Formula 1 this year.

Reigning Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc (below, left) will race alongside Marcus Ericsson at Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, with Antonio Giovinazzi serving as third driver for 2018.

Leclerc, 20, has risen rapidly through the single-seater ranks, winning the GP3 title before his F2 championship triumph last year. 

He says: “I am very happy to be entering Formula 1 in 2018. I would also like to thank Sauber for their trust and confidence in me as a driver, and I look forward to joining the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for the upcoming season.

“It is a great working environment and I already feel confident and comfortable here. In 2018, my aim will be to gain more experience in Formula 1, and to bring as much value to the team as possible in return.”

This year will be Ericsson’s fifth in Formula 1, and his fourth with Sauber.

He says: “First of all, I would like to congratulate the team on the new partnership with Alfa Romeo.

“It is a great honour for me to be driving for this team in 2018, and I am excited and proud to be part of this promising journey. I am confident I can add to the knowledge and experience of the team.”