The alliance between Alfa Romeo and Sauber Motorsport has been confirmed for the 2021 Formula One World Championship, as they sign a multi-year new deal. Alfa Romeo became the team’s main sponsor in 2018, which was the beginning of another relationship between the brands.
The Swiss team initially carried Alfa Romeo title sponsorship in 2018, before introducing Alfa Romeo chassis for the very first time in 2019 as part of a relationship related to its Ferrari Power Unit and gearbox supply contract, which has helped the team economically despite the lack of equity stake.
As part of the agreement, Alfa Romeo is set to continue with the Ferrari-contracted Antonio Giovinazzi with Kimi Raikkonen next year, with the two drivers being featured in advertising and promotional activities and test-driving Alfa Romeo merchandise at the Alfa circuit in Balocco, Italy.
Antonio Giovinazzi currently has the seat, while Callum Ilott is serving as reserve driver this year and running in FP1 sessions in Kimi Raikkonen’s car. Mick Schumacher and current F2 frontrunner Robert Shwartzman are also potential future candidates who can replace either of the drivers and can drive for Alfa Romeo.
Alfa Romeo team principal Frédéric Vasseur, said, “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.”
The fact that the contract is just for another year is doing nothing to quiet the paddock suspicion that the Alfa Romeo name would be dropped from F1 after the 2021 season. The cars will race with a festive Italian flag on both the roll hoop and the rear wing endplates at Imola this weekend to commemorate the renewal of the contract, which the team describes as a homage to Italy and Alfa Romeo’s distinctive racing legacy.
“The partnership with Sauber also allows our customers to benefit from exclusive racing know-how, as it is the case of the all-new Giulia GTA and GTAm, which incorporate Sauber Engineering’s technical input particularly as it relates to advanced aerodynamics,” said Mike Manley, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which owns Alfa Romeo.
Alfa Romeo made significant progress during the first year of its Sauber relationship in 2018, with Charles Leclerc guiding the team’s rise to eighth place in the championship with 48 points, after finishing 10th the previous two seasons earning only in the single digits each time. Regardless of the fact that the power unit will strengthen, hopes are not great for next season due to a carryover of the 2021 cars.