The Alfa Romeo name will disappear from F1 in 2023
The Alfa Romeo name is set to disappear from the Formula 1 grid at the end of the 2023 season.
Stellantis, the corporation which owns Alfa Romeo, issued a media release announcing the current deal with Sauber Motorsport would not be renewed beyond the end of next year.
Sauber Motorsport operates under the Alfa Romeo F1 Team banner, though the relationship is nothing more than a naming rights sponsorship arrangement.
“Alfa Romeo communicates that its partnership with Sauber Motorsport will end within the end of 2023,” the statement confirmed.
“Alfa Romeo announced its return in F1 in 2017 with a long-term plan, and in July 2022 has announced the decision to continue its partnership with Sauber also for 2023, given to the promising results of the first half of the season, both in terms of performances, marketing and positive collaboration with the team.
“Since the economic and industrial turnaround of the brand will be achieved in 2022, Alfa Romeo will now evaluate among the many opportunities on the table, and decide which will be the best one to sustain the long-term strategy and the positioning of the brand.”
The announcement from Stellantis coincides with that of Audi, which held a media conference in Belgium this morning to confirm its entry into Formula 1 from 2026.
For the moment, only its power unit project has been announced, though it plans to confirm a chassis partner later this year.
That is expected to come by way of a takeover of Sauber Motorsport and would go some way to explaining the withdrawal of the Alfa Romeo brand.
Audi is set to acquire an existing team rather than create an all-new entity as a means to shortcut the early development process.
“[There is] a high likelihood of having an Audi powertrain in an existing car – well it has to be changed, but we won’t set up a complete new team,” asserted Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management at Audi AG.
“The starting position and development is much better if you start with an existing car.”
Sauber Motorsport is by far the favourite when it comes to securing Audi’s investment, though McLaren has also been mooted.
Sauber has been the subject of much speculation with a potential sale to Michael Andretti collapsing last year.
The team is currently owned by Longbow Finance S.A. which acquired the squad in 2016.
Meanwhile, McLaren is a highly unlikely option due to its links to the McLaren Automotive business, and the marketing value the racing operation offers to the broader McLaren Group.
At that level, the organisation has been on a seemingly endless cycle of revenue raising for a number of years, the most recent to raise cash ahead of production for the Artura. It has also been shedding equity in recent years.
McLaren Racing fits in as the marketing vehicle for the brand, meaning a sale would have a significant impact on the automotive business.
As such, any sale would need to take place at Group level, making McLaren an unattractive proposition if the aim is simply to enter Formula 1.
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