Alfa ‘not completely blind’ to Audi Sauber takeover talks

Jamie Woodhouse
Valtteri Bottas drives past the castle in the Alfa Romeo C42. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato knows of Audi’s interest in Sauber, but explained why there is no concern from their end.

Alfa Romeo returned to Formula 1 in 2019 as part of a unique deal with Sauber, which saw the team named after Alfa Romeo with the livery also designed for the Italian brand, but the outfit continued to be operated by Sauber.

Now though there is a potential barrier to the continuation of this partnership, that being Audi.

From 2026, Audi and fellow Volkswagen Group brand Porsche are set to join Formula 1, Porsche preparing to link up with Red Bull.

Audi’s plans are much more of a mystery, though increasingly they have been linked with a takeover of Sauber, which would of course very much put Alfa Romeo’s place on the grid in jeopardy.

Imparato says he is not “completely blind” to the discussions between Audi and Sauber, but if a deal was to be struck, then he is confident that other opportunities would open up for Alfa Romeo.

Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas drives during the British Grand Prix weekend. Silverstone, July 2022.

“I have to say I am not completely blind,” he told Motorsport.com of Audi’s interest in Sauber.

“But it’s simple for me. We are not going to change our business model. If one day someone makes an attempt, whatever it is, we will make the decision we have to make.

“I have so many options. When you’re a brand like Alfa Romeo, which has been around for 112 years, the world is open to us.

“We have a positive history in terms of business, the year 2021 was profitable for Alfa Romeo for the first time in years. So there is really no stress. I’m absolutely not scared, anxious or even worried about the discussions I’ve heard in the paddock.”

Imparato believes that the nature of Alfa Romeo’s partnership with Sauber offers “the best return in the world”, since Alfa Romeo’s level of investment into the team is notably lower than that of the other manufacturers.

The goal for Imparato is to see the team “progress year after year”, something which has certainly happened in 2022.

After falling to the lower reaches of the pack, the introduction of sweeping new regulations for 2022 has coincided with a renaissance for the Alfa Romeo team, which has collected 51 points across the opening 11 races to sit P6 in the Constructors’ Championship.

“We have invented a new business model with our colleagues at Sauber, where there is a dual leadership between us,” Imparato explained.

“Frederic [Vasseur, team principal], has led the team from the beginning and we have stayed in our lane, even though we have had some difficult times.

“We didn’t move because we don’t change the strategy every morning. As Alfa, I support it and do everything I can to drive that development. The approach for me has been that we have to progress year after year, race after race, even if we struggle sometimes.”

 

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