Sauber's far-sighted investment in the Alfa Romeo name
The newly-named Alfa Romeo Racing team might be cooking something delicious under the changes it is going through. Perhaps it is just laying the foundation to leave the Ferrari nest, which saved them from bankruptcy a while back.
The Sauber F1 team has been rebranded and will now carry the name ‘Alfa Romeo Racing’. Its main sponsor has therefore stepped in and swiped off the Sauber name from the sport, although the outfit, the internal structure and the headquarters remain the same.
The Swiss outfit is in for a revolution to the core: Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen will be squaring off against the opposition, making up an all-new line-up endowed with interesting features. Giovinazzi will dispute his maiden full season in the series, bringing back the Italian flag to Formula 1, whereas Kimi Raikkonen is going back to his roots, to the team that started it all for him.
Team principal Fred Vasseur is excited to see what the future holds for the team following the rebranding, given the positive growth curve it has experienced on track. "After initiating the collaboration with our title sponsor Alfa Romeo in 2018, our team made fantastic progress on the technical, commercial, and sporting side.
"This has given a boost of motivation to each team member, be that track-side or at the headquarter in Switzerland, as the hard work invested has become reflected in our results.
"We aim to continue developing every sector of our team while allowing our passion for racing, technology and design to drive us forward".
Last year the boost Alfa Romeo injected into Sauber’s resources was equal to 50 million euros, while the sum has now been doubled for the 2019 season. The increase in performance is likely to become reality, allowing the team to leap through the field. Sauber closed the 2018 season as the 8th best constructor, having fought against Toro Rosso and Haas throughout the season, despite having been the fourth best team on a number of occasions. The potential is high, although Vasseur believes the project is still green and requires more time to target the top team area in the pecking order.
However, their goal is to develop a stronger image through the rebranding, which can attract more high-profile partners to lay the foundations for more competitive campaigns. Reaching financial independence and having the resources to build and sustain a project autonomously stands for Sauber’s ultimate goal, since it is the only way to catch a Renault, Force India or McLaren-like status on the grid. Ferrari’s engine deal and hearty, preferential support is definitely fundamental in the whole process, and it is no secret that Sauber acts as a Ferrari B-outfit. But what if the Hinwil-based team ends up detaching itself from the base and taking flight over the years? That would be a pleasant story to tell, especially following their monetary struggles in the last few years and before the advent of Alfa Romeo.