Alfa Romeo, which came back to Formula 1 in 2018 decades after slowly fading out of its last dramatic return to the sport, has opted to re-up its contract with Sauber and keep racing beyond this season, according to Formula1.com. This is somewhat of a surprise in that I expected Stellantis to take one look at the middling F1 team and say, “No, thanks.”
The deal provides for “yearly assessments,” which presumably are opt-outs for both sides after every season, though Formula1.com says that the deal is “multi-year.”
It appears that F1's new rules — intended to benefit smaller teams and help level the playing field — had a part in Alfa’s decision.
Quoth team principal Fred Vasseur:
“The new regulations are giving us the chance to make another step forward and I firmly believe we are perfectly placed to make big gains together. We are looking forward to our future together and to keeping moving towards the front of the grid.
“This relationship is also very important for our company as a whole, beyond the track: the work we have done in the automotive world has shown the extent of the technology and manufacturing skills of Sauber Engineering and we are confident we can continue working for Alfa Romeo on new and exciting projects that will shape the future of the car industry.”
Alfa Romeo’s current drivers, Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi, sit 15th and 16th, respectively, in the driver’s championship standings, and both are in the midst of thoroughly forgettable seasons., though not as forgettable as, say, Nikita Mazepin. Alfa, also, will be a good test case for just how much the new rules change things. Alfa is exactly the kind of team the rules are designed to benefit, with lower costs and all that. My guess is that the Mercedeses and Red Bulls of the F1 world will continue to dominate, but I’d love to be surprised.