At present, Ferrari owners – the Fiat Chrysler group have a rather meagre official financial commitment in the Swiss based Formula 1 team Sauber, and yet the team have abandoned their name that has a huge heritage and a degree of historical prestige amongst F1 fans.
For 2018 season, the team received the first significant investment from outside the Sauber regulars, and the name Alfa Romeo was emblazoned on the airbox but more notably the car looked ‘developed’ despite the official investment of well under 10 million Euros by Fiat Chrysler – real peanuts in all honesty (Rich Energy paid more for Haas this year!).
Then for 2019 the name Sauber disappeared from the team forever. ‘Minor investor’ Fiat Chrysler has mandated that the team be renamed the Alfa Romeo racing team with the blessing of the other teams, rights holder Liberty and the FIA automobile authority.
Six million euros to Fiat have paid for the team name, despite the major owners that are still Islero Investments AG – a group with connections to the Swedish billionaire Finn Rausing (Tetra Pak).
It has since come to light that Fiat boss John Elkann has a purchase option that can be drawn until the summer. One thing is certain: for Ferrari , the close cooperation with fellow Fiat Chrysler brand, Alfa not only means more political power in Liberty and the FIA, but the Scuderia benefits from another team that will share data for development.
The late Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne, who died in the summer of 2018, had already made the first deal for 2018 in order to present the Alfa Romeo brand worldwide in addition to Ferrari. At that time the team was called Sauber-Alfa.
TJ13 understands that behind the Alfa Romeo team is now populated by a significant quantity of Ferrari technicians who have been diverted away from Maranello for the Sauber project, in a Red Bull Racing / Toro Rosso style. Please look away FIA.
Take into consideration as well that two big personal changes from Ferrari to Sauber have now made it very clear that the Fiat Chrysler bosses plan to take the team fully this summer.
First: aero chief Simone Resta changed from mid-season by Ferrari as chief technical officer of Sauber. Resta is considered a confidant of the new Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto.
Secondly, there is the signing of the Italian Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who has just moved from Ferrari back to the Swiss team. The Italian drove back in 2017 two weekends for Sauber as a replacement for the then injured Pascal Wehrlein.
In 2018, the Giovinazzi ran some tests for the also closely linked with Ferrari Haas team and provided valuable simulator work for Scuderia Ferrari themselves.
Räikkönen makes it clear that his move from Ferrari to Alfa Romeo is not meant to be a career winding down move:
“I see no reason why we should not be able to perform well,” says the ex-Ferrari driver. “They have all the tools, they have a great wind tunnel, and they have everything they need to build a great car, and we have a Ferrari engine, so we know what we’re getting.”
Already during the end of the season tests in Abu Dhabi , he had a good feeling during his first trip with the new team: “It felt very familiar, obviously it’s a different car than the Ferrari, but the feeling that I’m driving had, was not completely different. ”