Alfa Romeo is returning to the Formula 1 World Championship after three decades away from the sport.
The Italian automaker won’t be fielding its own team, though. Instead, it will serve as title sponsor and technical partner to Sauber in a multi-year deal starting from 2018. In this way, Alfa Romeo’s deal is similar to the one between Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing, and quite different to the one between BMW and Sauber that ran from 2006 to 2009, as BMW owned and ran the team.
With Alfa Romeo onboard, struggling Sauber will be rebranded Alfa Romeo Sauber F1. The team’s cars will also sport the distinctive colors and logo of Alfa Romeo. The power units, meanwhile, will come from Ferrari.
In a statement, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said Alfa Romeo will benefit from the sharing of technology and experience with Sauber. He also said the move is a significant step in the reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand.
Alfa Romeo has a rich history in motorsport, especially during the early parts of the last century. Alfa Romeo also participated in F1 from 1950 to 1988, both as a constructor and engine supplier. Immediately upon its debut, Alfa Romeo won the first two Drivers’ Championships, in 1950 and 1951, with legendary drivers Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio.
From 1961 to 1979, Alfa Romeo participated as an 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.