F1 Racing - - BRAKING IT DOWN -

pres­ti­gious Targa Flo­rio, Mille Miglia and Spa 24 Hours. Then, pre- and post-WWII, came one of the great­est race cars ever: the su­per­charged straight-eight Alfa Romeo 158, which dom­i­nated pre-war Voi­turette events and won the 1950 and 1951 F1 drivers’ cham­pi­onships with Giuseppe Fa­rina and Juan Manuel Fan­gio at the wheel. I was lucky enough to at­tend the first ever F1 race in 1950 at Sil­ver­stone, and I’ll never for­get the im­pe­ri­ous way the 158s com­manded the race to fin­ish first, sec­ond and third.

Alfa with­drew from F1 at the end of 1951 and made a lack­lus­tre re­turn in the mid-1980s, but suc­cess­fully con­tin­ued in sportscars and tour­ing cars. So they can be proud of their com­pet­i­tive past. Why then does Ser­gio Mar­chionne want them to stick their neck out and re-en­ter the F1 fray with all the po­ten­tial grief and cost? Partly, I reckon, be­cause Alfa Romeo road-car sales aren’t ex­actly boom­ing and be­cause as­so­ci­a­tion with F1 would do the brand’s sporty im­age a power of good. But maybe also be­cause hav­ing Alfa in the F1 fold would give Mar­chionne’s al­ready pow­er­ful ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion within the sport, thanks to his Fer­rari role, even more clout.

In which case, how could Alfa re-en­ter the sport? By buy­ing an ex­ist­ing team? By cre­at­ing an all new or­gan­i­sa­tion that goes it alone? Or by fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful Haas team model of buy­ing per­mis­si­ble listed items from Fer­rari? Mar­chionne has al­ready rub­bished ru­mours of pur­chas­ing Sauber, and of the other two al­ter­na­tives the Haas route seems a no-brainer.

Which­ever way they choose to go, Fiat have the re­sources and ex­pe­ri­ence to cre­ate a new Alfa Romeo team in the short­est pos­si­ble time. I would love to see it hap­pen and for Alfa to build on their great past. They would be an ex­cit­ing new man­u­fac­turer with ev­ery chance of suc­cess, which I’m sure the fans would wel­come with en­thu­si­asm and which could cre­ate great po­ten­tial ben­e­fits for road-car sales.

I’m not so sure Bernie Ec­cle­stone would be over the moon though…

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