Despite rumours holding that Sauber could have switched to become a Renault support team after 2021, the team is already in talks with Ferrari to extend its current Formula One partnership with the Italian manufacturer all the way till 2025.
The existing contract between Sauber and Ferrari is due to expire at the end of this year, hence the insisting claims that the Swiss squad could be a potential choice for Renault as a new customer team. The French manufacturer, in fact, has lost its final F1 customer squad, McLaren – which will become a Mercedes customer - and is looking for new partner teams for the future, leading to suggestions it could link up with Sauber.
Such rumours were supported by the current Alfa Romeo’s team principal Frederic Vasseur’s good relationship with the Renault, where he briefly worked in 2016.
Nevertheless, the shareholders of the Sauber squad seem to be eager to maintain stability and are willing to continue working with Ferrari.
Sauber has been a Ferrari customer F1-team since 2010, and further strengthened its ties with the Maranello-based manufacturer by adopting the name of its sister brand, Alfa Romeo, in 2019.
As reported by Motorsport.com, a deal has been agreed between Sauber and Ferrari for a new engine supply deal from 2022 to 2025.
Although no official statement has been released yet, an extension of Alfa Romeo’s Formula 1 commitment with Sauber and its Ferrari collaboration is in advanced talks and, as claimed by Frederic Vasseur, the deal “close” is to be signed very soon.
As a matter of fact, the design of the 2022 Sauber chassis has been based on the dimensions of a Ferrari power unit and gearbox, therefore suggesting to an extension of the current agreement.
A prolongation of the agreement between the two squads will also have a significant political impact allowing Ferrari to maintain its current position unaltered, with two customer teams alongside its main squad. Sauber has raced with the Italian Antonio Giovinazzi, a Ferrari-affiliated driver, since 2019, and growing connections are anticipated with Haas, which will host Mick Schumacher’ F1 debut as a Ferrari Driver Academy member.
Alfa’s technical alliance with Ferrari includes several benefits such as the supply of engine, gearbox and some non-listed parts. However, the unsatisfying 2020 season, due to Ferrari’s alleged illegal engine, has left its customer teams Alfa and Haas almost exclusively fighting at the back of the grid alongside Williams.
That raised concerns relative to the willingness of Sauber/Alfa to continue working with the red-team beyond 2021 and opened up the possibility to explore an alternative such as Renault, which will not have an engine customer next year. However, when asked by The Race whether he would consider leaving the Ferrari, Vasseur commented: “No, we are discussing with Ferrari to extend the collaboration and then we are quite close to signing the deal”.
The only thing that is still not clear is whether, following the merger between parent company Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group – forming the fourth-largest carmaker in the world under the name Stellantis – the team will continue to race under the Alfa Romeo name beyond 2021. However, an extension-announcement is expected within the next few weeks.