Alfa Romeo name returning to F1 in 2018 in Sauber tie-up
The Alfa Romeo name will return to F1 with Sauber in 2018 after the two parties agreed a wide-ranging technical partnership.
The Swiss team will officially be known as Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team with the Italian car maker to be their new title sponsor as part of a multi-year deal.
Sauber are powered by Ferrari engines and Sergio Marchionne, the chairman of the Maranello marque and the Fiat-Chrysler empire, had been keen to see the Alfa Romeo brand return to F1 for the first time since 1985.
The partnership is being billed as 'strategic, commercial and technological cooperation between Alfa Romeo and the Sauber F1 Team'.
Sauber are still to confirm their driver line-up for 2018, but Ferrari-backed Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson are the most likely pairing. Both are running in this week's post-season Abu Dhabi test.
"This agreement with the Sauber F1 Team is a significant step in the reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand, which will return to Formula 1 after an absence of more than 30 years," said Marchionne in a statement.
"A storied marque that has helped make the history of this sport, Alfa Romeo will join other major automakers that participate in Formula 1. The brand itself will also benefit from the sharing of technology and strategic know-how with a partner of the Sauber F1 Team's undisputed experience.
"The Alfa Romeo engineers and technicians, who have already demonstrated their capabilities with the newly-launched models, Giulia and Stelvio, will have the opportunity to make that experience available to the Sauber F1 Team. At the same time, Alfa Romeo fans will once again have the opportunity to support an automaker that is determined to begin writing an exciting new chapter in its unique, legendary sporting history."
Sauber finished bottom of this year's Constructors' Championship after scoring just five points, but had already beefed up their long-standing partnership with Ferrari and will revert to using the Maranello outfit's current engine in 2018.
The team were bought out by an investment company mid-way through 2016 and, having installed former Renault chief Frederic Vasseur as their new team boss in July, are plotting a more competitive future.
"We are very pleased to welcome Alfa Romeo to the Sauber F1 Team," said Sauber chairman Pascal Picci.
"Alfa Romeo has a long history of success in Grand Prix racing, and we are very proud that this internationally renowned company has chosen to work with us for its return to the pinnacle of motorsport.
"Working closely with a car manufacturer is a great opportunity for the Sauber Group to further develop its technology and engineering projects. We are confident that together we can bring the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team great success, and look forward to a long and successful partnership."
The Alfa Romeo logo has appeared on Ferrari's F1 cars since 2015 but the car company has not had direct involvement in the sport for 30 years.
They competed as a constructor in the first two years of the world championship, 1950-51, and won drivers' titles with Nino Farina and Juan-Manuel Fangio respectively. After pulling out, Alfa Romeo returned in 1979 but generally struggled for results over seven seasons.