ALFA ROMEO EYES F1 RE­TURN

Ital­ian firm to look at grand prix come­back for im­age boost

Motor Sport News - - Front Page - By Rob Lad­brook

Ital­ian firm Alfa Romeo will be eval­u­at­ing a re­turn to the F1 grid as a full con­struc­tor, ac­cord­ing to com­pany head Ser­gio Mar­chionne.

Speak­ing to Gazzetta dello Sport news­pa­per, Mar­chionne said that Alfa Romeo must look to re­ju­ve­nate its sport­ing im­age in the fu­ture, and that he sees For­mula 1 as the per­fect ve­hi­cle to do that.

Mar­chionne is the chair­man of Fer­rari and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Fiat-chrysler Group, which en­com­passes 15 brands in­clud­ing Alfa Romeo.

The Ital­ian firm’s name was linked with an en­gine brand­ing deal with Red Bull if Fer­rari had agreed to sup­ply the Mil­ton Keynes team with power units fol­low­ing its ap­par­ent split from Re­nault. Those talks broke down when Fer­rari opted against such a deal, leav­ing Red Bull to run TAG Heuer-branded Re­nault en­gines this sea­son.

How­ever, Mar­chionne in­sists Alfa Romeo must make a larger com­mit­ment to F1 than just brand­ing an en­gine if it is to re­turn. He has sug­gested that a tech­ni­cal link up with Fer­rari would be the best way to make the pro­ject work fi­nan­cially for both teams.

Mar­chionne said: “In or­der to re-es­tab­lish it­self as a sport brand, Alfa Romeo can and must con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of a re­turn to rac­ing in For­mula 1. How? Prob­a­bly in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Fer­rari. It would be a clas­sic ex­am­ple of a busi­ness model to fol­low. You couldn’t imag­ine a Red Bull brand as­so­ci­ated with Fer­rari. I say this be­cause they crit­i­cise me for not giv­ing them our en­gine; we ei­ther want them in or out. But in the end this sport must be saved. The im­por­tant thing is to make other car man­u­fac­tur­ers en­ter grand prix rac­ing.

“Alfa Romeo is able to make it­self a chas­sis, and it is able to make en­gines. I would re­ally like to have it in For­mula 1.”

Alfa Romeo has a strong his­tory in the sport’s top flight. It pow­ered Giuseppe Fa­rina to vic­tory in the in­au­gu­ral world cham­pi­onship grand prix at Sil­ver­stone in 1950 and that years’ ti­tle in a 158 model. Juan Manuel Fan­gio took the 1951 cham­pi­onship for the brand. The firm then had a spell as an en­gine sup­plier be­tween 1961 and 1979, most no­tably pow­er­ing Brab­ham while also de­vel­op­ing its own chas­sis.

Alfa Romeo re­turned as a fac­tory team in 1979 with the 177. It scored two poles and five podi­ums but re­mained win­less un­til it with­drew from the sport af­ter the 1985 sea­son. Alfa con­tin­ued to sup­ply en­gines to the Osella team un­til the end of 1988 and briefly to Ligier.

Pho­tos: LAT

Top man Mar­chionne Last Alfa works team in 1980s

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