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Formula 1

Alfa Romeo extends Sauber deal but with ‘yearly assessments’

by Edd Straw
3 min read

Sauber’s partnership with Alfa Romeo has been extended with a multi-year deal that means the team will continue to bear the name of the Italian automotive manufacturer.

There was uncertainty that the deal would continue after it was initially extended just for 2021 last year, and the fact that the announcement refers to “yearly assessments” indicates that this partnership will continue to be reviewed each season.

It’s an important step for the Sauber team, which first teamed up with Alfa Romeo in 2018 ahead of taking on the name in 2019. The announcement of the deal refers to “ambitious objectives for progressive improvement year on year” as part of the partnership.

The language used hints at the need to improve on its current form, with Sauber currently on target to finish eighth in the constructors’ championship for the fourth successive season and the reference to the yearly assessments appearing to indicate better results are required from a team that has only scored two points this season.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Spielberg, Austria

The arrival of the cost cap and the major overhaul of technical regulations for next year means Alfa Romeo has set some ambitious targets, describing itself as “one of the outfits with the biggest potential”.

As part of the deal, Sauber will continue to work with Alfa Romeo on automotive projects.

“We are delighted to be announcing the extension of this partnership,” said team principal Frederic Vasseur.

“Alfa Romeo have been an incredible companion over the last few years, and we are even more excited about the chapters that are yet to come.

“The new regulations are giving us the chance to make another step forward and I firmly believe we are perfectly placed to make big gains together.

“We are looking forward to our future together and to keeping moving towards the front of the grid.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Steiermark Grand Prix Qualifying Day Spielberg, Austria

“This relationship is also very important for our company as a whole, beyond the track: the work we have done in the automotive world has shown the extent of the technology and manufacturing skills of Sauber Engineering and we are confident we can continue working for Alfa Romeo on new and exciting projects that will shape the future of the car industry.”

It’s unclear what impact this move will have on the team’s 2022 driver line-up, with Vasseur recently saying that this will not be finalised until later in the year.

However, Alfa Romeo played a key role in Antonio Giovinazzi being retained this year given its desire for an Italian driver. Kimi Raikkonen is also valued by the company given his status as a former world champion, and has regularly been used in advertising campaigns, meaning that even at 41 and having had a difficult season he remains in contention to stay on.

But there have also been suggestions Haas driver Mick Schumacher could make the switch to Alfa Romeo, with test driver and fellow Ferrari Academy prospect Callum Ilott also in the frame.

Alfa Romeo’s involvement in F1 has been patchy since winning the first two world championships in 1950 and ’51. But according to CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato, it remains a key part of its strategy.

This is not only because of its racing heritage and the commercial value, but also to assist its push for electrification.

“As an historic Italian automotive brand, Alfa Romeo was born on the racetrack,” said Imparato.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Steiermark Grand Prix Practice Day Spielberg, Austria

“Today we are proud to continue honouring that racing DNA by placing it at heart of the future of our brand.

“We are driven by passion and excellence. Formula 1 represents a cutting-edge laboratory for the future electrification of our range, fully coherent with our vision for the coming years.

“Furthermore, motorsport brings the incomparable global exposure we wish to leverage for a successful future.”

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