The Sauber team have been fully renamed as Alfa Romeo Racing for 2019.
The Sauber team have been formally renamed as Alfa Romeo Racing for the upcoming season, with the former team sponsor taking over naming rights as the links between the team and the FIAT owned company are strengthened.
It’s the first time since 1992 that the Sauber name won’t be on the grid. Entering under his own name in 1993, Peter Sauber’s F1 team kept on that part of the name throughout the years of BMW ownership between 2006 & 2009 before reverting back to Sauber in 2010.
With their future looking precarious at the end of 2015, Peter Sauber & team boss Monisha Kalterborn sold their shares in the team to Longbow Finance, a Swiss finance company. A title sponsorship agreement was arranged between Sauber and Alfa Romeo in late 2017; Alfa being part of the FIAT group through which Sauber has enjoyed a long relationship with while being a Ferrari customer team. The partnership has now been deepened, although the team stressed that the ownership and management will remain independent.
The new car will be driven by Kimi Raikkonen, who departed Scuderia Ferrari at the end of last season, and Antonio Giovinazzi, the Italian racer who has worked in the Ferrari program and with Sauber since 2016.
CEO of the FCA Group which owns Ferrari & Alfa Romeo, Michael Manley, says this illustrates that the team are to be taken seriously as an outfit in their own right, and not just as a customer or B-team: “Alfa Romeo Racing is a new name with a long history in Formula One. We’re proud to collaborate with Sauber in bringing Alfa Romeo’s tradition of technical excellence and Italian panache to the pinnacle of motorsport. Make no mistake: with Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi on one side of the pit wall and Alfa Romeo and Sauber expertise on the other, we are here to compete.”
With the team very much on the rise and being solid midfield competitors in 2018, team boss Frederic Vasseur said that this new arrangement underlines the team’s progress: “It is a pleasure to announce that we will enter the 2019 Formula One World Championship with the Team name Alfa Romeo Racing. 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.”
Alfa as a team isn’t new to F1. They raced in 1950 & 1951, winning the World Championship with Giuseppe Farina & Juan Manuel Fangio, before withdrawing ahead of 1952. Returning in 1979 as Autodelta, the turbo era was less kind to Alfa and they withdrew again in 1985 after two seasons as Benetton Alfa Romeo. Their engines continued to be used as Osellas up until the end of 1988.