Alfa Romeo’s presence in F1 has come to an end again, with the company’s director outlining the conditions under which he’d push for a return.
Having come onboard with Sauber as a sponsor in 2018, Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo increased their commitment by becoming the team’s main partner for 2019 – the deal including naming rights that saw Sauber operate Alfa Romeo’s ‘factory’ team.
But Sauber are going independent for the next two years, bridging a gap before the arrival of Audi as the German manufacturer buys shares that will see it assume a majority shareholder position in the Sauber Group of companies.
Alfa Romeo: It made little sense to start again with another team
With Alfa Romeo and Sauber parting ways, rumour abounded that the Italian manufacturer was eyeing up a similar agreement with the Haas squad. But the arrangement never came to fruition, and Alfa Romeo’s managing director Jean-Philippe Imparato has explained why that is the case.
“Did we want to repeat the experience under the same conditions, sponsoring a team for more or less double the price?” Imparato said, as quoted by Ouest France.
“No, because I wasn’t bringing anything new to the table and I had money to put into developing my products.
“If I do it, I don’t do it as a sponsor.”
Over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, Imparato told Motorsport.com that: “We weren’t interested in aiming to do a copy/paste operation in the style of the one done with Sauber.
“It would have led us to become one of those who puts stickers on bodywork. It would no longer have been new and we wouldn’t have been part of a story.”
With the Stellantis Group – to which Alfa Romeo belongs – represented in the World Endurance Championship through Peugeot, Alfa Romeo is eyeing up a switch to the endurance racing world – although the exact nature of how that’ll play out hasn’t been confirmed.
“If I do it, I’m not doing it as a sponsor, I’m doing it as an owner,” Imparato explained.
“And secondly, we’re doing it for a long time. We won’t do it for less than three seasons, with one or two seasons of preparation.”
But Imparato stressed the importance of making sure the move is made with caution, as he pointed out the ‘slight danger’ of a ‘trend towards inflation in Endurance spending’.
“The economic equation hasn’t convinced me for the moment,” he said.
“I wouldn’t want the company to take a risk that could send it back into areas where it would lose out financially.
“I really want to do something, so we’re working hard. As soon as we find a formula that works, we’ll tell you what the programme is.”