Alfa Romeo returned to Formula One racing as a title sponsor and technical partner of Sauber for the 2018 season and that partnership continues for 2019. However, off the track, the Italian luxury brand's road cars could get a dose engineering influence from Sauber.
Pistonheads reported on Tuesday that the Swiss team's engineering division and Alfa Romeo will collaborate for road cars in the future. The extent of the collaboration is murky, as Sauber seemed to tease a "secret project," while Alfa Romeo downplayed the firm's future influence.
2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia
Team Principal Frederic Vasseur told the website Sauber and Alfa Romeo are working on a project outside of F1 and it's nearly complete. He called working alongside Alfa Romeo on road cars a "huge opportunity" and hinted that a lineup of Sauber-influenced Alfa Romeo cars could come to life. Yet, chief designer Klaus Busse, who oversees Alfa Romeo design among other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands, seemed to strip away the jubilance Vasseur showed.
"The idea that something (more extreme) will come in response to our F1 team, I don't think that it's necessary because our cars now are extremely capable as they are," Busse said. He noted the Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio are already "a handful" and unless a buyer is a professional race car driver, there's not much room to make them more extreme. That could rule out a Red Bull Racing-Aston Martin-like partnership for a hypercar like the Valkyrie. Alfa Romeo and Sauber sound far apart on how much collaboration there will be.
2019 Alfa Romeo C38 Formula 1 race car
Sauber could tune some Alfa Romeo vehicles with carbon-fiber bits and chassis components. It could also churn out a line of special-edition cars with F1-inspired design elements or branding with Alfa Romeo Racing's new driver, Kimi Räikkönen. He joins the team after racing for Ferrari last season.
Alfa Romeo's return to F1 last year was hardly successful as the team posted an eighth-place finish. However, the team has high hopes for 2019 with a star driver and new race car ready to roll.