The Italian brand would help more Italian drivers join F1, says Marchionne

After a spectacular comeback to the market with vehicles such as the 4C sports car, Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan, and the Stelvio SUV, Alfa Romeo could return to high-profile racing after a very long hiatus. According to Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne, an Alfa Romeo Formula One project could be used to help up-and-coming Italian drivers join the sport. No Italian has started an F1 race since 2011 and Ferrari hasn’t fielded an Italian pilot since 2009 (but it has hired GP2 rookie Antonio Giovinazzi as its reserve driver for 2017).

"Alfa Romeo in F1 could become a fine breeding ground for young Italian drivers. The best one, Giovinazzi, is already with us, but there are others besides him, and they are struggling to find room. Alfa Romeo, more than our customer teams, could offer them that space," Marchionne told Italian media, according to Motorsport.com.

There’s no specific deadline as to when Alfa Romeo might join F1, but Marchionne said that the project would have to wait due to the several road cars launched that are underway.

"The problem is that, at the moment, because of the launch of road cars that will come out soon, there already numerous commitments from a financial point of view. With the launch of the Giulia and the Stelvio we have to wait for a bit, but I hope to be able to bring it back," he added.

I wouldn’t get my hopes up to see the Alfa Romeo badge in Formula One before 2019.

The Italian brand has been an important figure in motorsport since the early days, fielding several cars in pre-WWII Grand Prix events. After joining sports car racing and winning three back-to-back 24 Hours of Le Mans races in the 1930s, Alfa Romeo joined Formula One in its maiden season in 1950. The Italians dominated the series in 1950 and 1951, but withdrew after that and didn’t return as a construction to this day. However, Alfa Romeo supplied several F1 teams with engines, including McLaren, March, and Brabham. Alfa’s last appearance in F1 as an engine supplier was in 1988 alongside the small Italian team Osella. In 1987, Alfa Romeo made a deal to supply engines to Ligier, but all was cancelled when Fiat took control of the brand.

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Why It Matters

On its way to becoming a better, global brand after several unsuccessful decades under Fiat, Alfa Romeo could win a lot by returning to motorsport. The Italian brand has won several important races and championships in its long history, including the world sports car championship, the European Touring Car Championship, DTM, Trans-Am, the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unfortunately, it has yet to win a notable event since 2004, when it achieved success in the Italian Superturismo Championship.

Granted, this might not change if Alfa Romeo joins F1, because based on what Marchionne said, the Italian brand would be used to train young drivers for Ferrari. However, a solid motorsport program will enable Alfa Romeo to create new race cars and join series such as the FIA’s GT3 and GT4 class, DTM, or even come up with a prototype car for Le Mans. This would be great news, as Alfa Romeo’s name has been linked to racing ever since the company was established more than 100 years ago.

Source: Motorsport

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