ALFA ROMEO EYES F1 RETURN
Italian firm to look at grand prix comeback for image boost
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.
Top man Marchionne Last Alfa works team in 1980s