If Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne gets his way, we could be looking at two Italian marques in Formula One very soon. During an end-of-season news conference at the Scuderia’s headquarters in Maranello, Marchionne announced his intent to bring Alfa Romeo back into the series after a nearly 30-year absence, alongside fellow FCA brand Ferrari.
“It’s incredible how the Alfa marque remains in people’s hearts. For that very reason we are thinking about bringing it back, as our competitor, to racing, to Formula One,” Marchionne said. “It’s important for Alfa to return.”
The last time Alfa was involved in F1 was as an engine supplier, in 1988. That season, the company’s aging turbocharged V8 was used by Italian outfit Osella Squadra Corse — though Osella rebadged the power plant as their own. Since then, the manufacturer has had a very brief stint supplying engines for Indy Car in the early ’90s, and ran several successful campaigns in touring car series all around the world, but their overall involvement in motorsport has waned.
Marchionne has indicated Alfa’s reintroduction to racing would begin as a marketing effort, rather than through factory-backed programs. At the conference, the CEO said the brand was in talks with Red Bull’s F1 operation last year to attach their name to Ferrari’s engines, but the Austrian team opted to use Renault for 2016 instead. Ferrari’s mills will power Sauber, Toro Rosso, and Haas chassis next year — in addition to their own — so Alfa does have a few other avenues they may consider.
Of course it’s not hard to imagine why Marchionne would rather label engines than pull a Volkswagen and commit to one more expensive F1 campaign, pitting two of Fiat’s most storied marques against each other at the highest level of motorsport. To this end, Marchionne says he’s looking up and down the racing ladder, even at junior categories, for an entry point for the brand. An Italian tuning company is fielding a bespoke Giulietta for the TCR international touring car series next year; alternatively, Motorsport.com revealed in March that Alfa has been mulling over building engines for the upcoming FIA Formula 2 discipline.
—By: Adam Ismail