By on December 22, 2016

Ferrari Alfa F1 2016

FCA and Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne said that he would love to see Alfa Romeo returning to the Formula 1 Championship with its own team, provided that they are never, ever as good as Scuderia Ferrari. Instead of being a genuine F1 contender, he imagines Alfa as the junior varsity team designed to condition future talent for its big-league brother.

“Alfa Romeo in F1 could become a fine breeding ground for young Italian drivers,” Marchionne said after announcing GP2’s Antonio Giovinazzi as Ferrari’s new third driver at the company’s annual Christmas media event. “For that very reason we are thinking about bringing it back, as our competitor, to racing, to Formula One. It’s important for Alfa to return.”

Ferrari recently finalized a deal with Giovinazzi, placing the Italian F1 rookie in the shadows of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. It’s the first time since 2009 that Ferrari has fielded an Italian driver.

Alfa Romeo’s return to Formula 1 is a bit of a Catch-22, however. Getting back into high-profile racing would no doubt help boost sales of the brand, but Alfa will first need to sell enough Giorgio platform vehicles to rationalize the expense. According to Motorsport, even a best-case scenario could place the timeline a couple of racing seasons away.

“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,” Sergio told reporters. “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.”

That said, Alfa very nearly managed to get itself onto a starting grid this past year with Red Bull. However the proposal ended up in violation of FIA rules and was scrapped before anything was set in motion.

The Italian automaker has not participated in Formula 1 since its abysmal final season in 1985.

“The worst car I ever drove was the 1985 Alfa Romeo 185T,” Ricardo Patrese told Motorsport in 2000, “I didn’t get any championship points in in and quite apart from the fact that it was not reliable and competitive, it was also not very nice to drive, because the turbo lag was very uncomfortable.”

Embarrassments aside, the brand that helped bring Scuderia into existence might still deserve better than being a training ground for its best drivers. Ferrari has been supplying power units — some with Alfa Romeo badging — to rival teams for a while now. Alfa doesn’t need Ferrari and could technically exist as a standalone operation.

“Alfa Romeo are capable of making their own chassis, just as they are capable of making engines,” Sergio told Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper in an interview.

The first two Formula One world championships in history were both won by Alfa Romeo cars, piloted by Italian Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina and Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio. Enzo Ferrari himself started out racing and managing a team for Alfa before setting up Scuderia in 1939. Now Ferrari just includes a small Alfa logo on the livery of its F1 cars, in an claimed bond of passion, sportiness, and shared values that are supposed to somehow unite them as brothers.

“It’s incredible how the Alfa marque remains in people’s hearts,” the Ferrari president said during last year’s conference at the Italian team’s Maranello headquarters. “For that very reason we are thinking about bringing it back, as our competitor, to racing, to Formula One. It’s important for Alfa to return.”

[Source: Reuters] [Image: Ferrari]

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42 Comments on “Sergio Marchionne Wants Alfa Romeo Back in F1, Provided It Never Outshines Ferrari...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    That little boom you heard is Paul DeLorenzo’s head exploding.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      Haha, first thing I thought of too!

      The unrelenting fervor with which he criticizes Sergio and the idea of Alfa coming back seems to have become his religion lately. Who knows, maybe he IS ultimately correct in his observations, but when he is unable to concede ANYTHING positive it begins to look more like emotional knee-jerking than rational analysis.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I read his page as pure entertainment. What is he so angry about? He transcended beyond the bounds of reason or restraint long ago. His current entry has crossed over from entertaining to worrisome though (see the bit complaining about GM’s security).

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Sportscars or Racing sedans, yes. F1 no.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Why not? Think of Alfa being to Ferrari what Toro Rosso is to Red Bull. Red Bull has made an incredible contribution to F1 racing so far. They brought into F1 Vettel, Buemi, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Verstappen, and Sainz. All of these racers were christened going through Red Bull’s junior Toro Rosso team. If Ferrari put some effort into this idea, I think we could easily see a similar success story based on a junior Ferrari team, called Alfa-Romeo.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    F1? That’s the help key isn’t it?

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    So I guess the Alfa team will block for the Ferrari team?

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    re: “Ferrari has been supplying power units — some with Alfa Romeo badging — to rival teams for a while now”

    Which teams would that be, exactly?
    It would not be a bad thing if articles that discuss F1 were proofed by someone who follows the sport (or knows how to look-up stuff).

    What Sergio said is that he would like to start a Ferrari B team, like Toro Rosso is to Red Bull, but the numbers don’t work yet. The idea has been put on the back burner until Alfa has gained more traction at the consumer level.

    Presumably this would give Alfa some decent exposure in key Asian markets. Not so much in the US where F1 is a fringe series.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yep Hass & Toro Rosso both run Ferrari engines, however they are not badged as Alfas. Do we really need another set of red cars on the grid? Would Alfas runs in green or yellow? I doubt the Ferrari faithful would accept a “B” team. As stated below if you enter F1 to don’t win then what is the point?

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Toro Rosso is moving to Renault engines next year, so that leaves just Haas and Sauber as Ferrari customers, and Sauber will run the 2016 spec engine in 2017.
        Ferrari could use an extra team in their squadron just for the running time (very little testing is allowed), and to lock-up promising drivers, like Red Bull has done with Sainz.

        F1 has been a competition of top teams and grid-fillers for a long time now. It’s unfortunate in a way, but it’s an unavoidable consequence of having a technology-intensive format. It would lose some of its flavor if it wasn’t so hard to get to the top.

        • 0 avatar
          Jacob

          Ugh, how many years of F1 racing did you skip? Toro Rosso has been using Renault engines for several seasons now.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            From 2007 to 2013, Toro Rosso used Ferrari V8 engines, taking over the contract that their senior team broke from at the end of 2006 to switch engine builders to Renault. For 2014, Toro Rosso switched to Renault engines as well, but in 2016 returned to using Ferrari power, and will switch back to Renault in 2017

      • 0 avatar
        andrethx

        back when andretti drove for alfa romeo in F1, the cars were white and red — marlboro colors — so i imagine that they’d go with something like that.

      • 0 avatar
        Jacob

        I beg to differ. Look at what Toro Rosso has done for Red Bull and for F1 in general. They basically brought ALL of the best new drivers since Hamilton. Vettel, Buemi, Ricciardo, Verstappen, and Sainz have all gone through Toro Rosso selection process.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    If they won’t try to finish as high as possible, they don’t belong on the grid.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      Agree, but it sounds like they are aiming more for the “halo effect” of simply having a presence in an elite series like F1. (I don’t know if this can work in the 2010s like it did in the 1960s, but it should engender at least a little additional credibility in the minds of enthusiasts at a time when the brand is trying to reestablish itself as a more major player.)

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      All teams competing in F1 try to finish as high as possible. Duh!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Sometimes he makes Roger Smith look lucid in comparison.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    “I see you bought that new Alfa Romeo”

    “Yeah, I wanted everyone to think of me as a complete loser, just like the Alfa Romeo F1 team”

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    You gotta give Big Serge credit, he knows how to bait the automotive press extremely well. And nobody ever seems to offer follow-up questions on his stuff from prior years.

  • avatar
    Fred

    What about Maserati? The 250F is one of my favorites.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    So that’s part of the big Alfa Romeo plan? Spend a ton of money to get back in, but deliberately play second fiddle to Ferrari? Yet another reason F1 sucks.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Probably this has more to do with the decline of F1, the degree to which F1 is a marketing spectacle for Ferrari, and that the show must go on.

  • avatar

    Hear that? Its the sound of every $10,000 made on a special-edition Wrangler Unlimited getting flushed further down FCA’s expansive and all-consuming toilet of worthless masturbatory Alfa ventures.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Perhaps Indy or Sport Cars would be a better setting? As rich as Alfa’s history in F1 is, they shouldn’t be in it to play second fiddle, nor can they match the Scuderia at this point. Ferrari will always be the top name. Indycar or perhaps IMSA’s new DPi formula could give Alfa a relatively (to F1) low cost way to get back into racing, actually score wins at major events (Indy 500, Rolex 24, 12 Hours of Sebring) in their soon to be most important market. I would’ve loved to see a Ferrari DPi but Alfa would probably be the next best thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      IndyCar is totally worthless from marketing perspective. As for the sportscars, Alfa doesn’t build any cars that could possibly qualify in the GT class, while building a prototype is just as expensive as getting into F1. F1 wins. Nobody is watching WEC, now that it’s a two car horse race.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I wasn’t suggesting WEC or GT. I thought IMSA was a better match, and probably with a prototype. In GT they would be racing against their FCA cousins Ferrari, although a GT3 version of the Giulia Quadrifoglio could be a plausible GT3/GTD/PWC entry (Lexus runs the RC, Bentley the Continental, BMW the M6, and Cadillac the ATS-V, so sedan or big coupe based models aren’t without precedent). However, I think a DPi would be a better option. They could use the Giulia Quadrifoglio V-6 (or really any other FCA engine they wanted to rebrand as an Alfa), and it would be (relatively) inexpensive since they would only have to design/sponsor some branded bodywork, with the chassis work already having been done by the various builders. They wouldn’t be running against Ferrari and, while IMSA isn’t exactly a big name series, certainly the Rolex 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring still carry some cachet, so scoring overall wins there would help get them some good press and marketing photos.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    I am a true F1 fan and follower and I have suggestion for FCA: Avoid F1 like death. It is such a cash burner that you have to have invented something like coca-cola or red bull to play. It crushed Virgin, Lotus, Toyota, and BMW. It dismembered the Spanish, humbled the biggest thieves in India, and throttled the first Americans. FCA could not hope to ever do better than HAAS, the re-grouped second AMERICAN effort. What Ferrari said was a mean thing designed to hurt and inflict pain on a company that may soon be nipping on its heels with the glass tower crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      Brett Woods

      Hmm… better not write any more early morning comments after staying up all night. So used to seeing Sergio Marchionne’s name along with Ferrari in F1 print – Forgot for the moment he is also CEO of Alfa Romeo (how does he do all that?). It even says so in the first line of this article! An unfortunate rush from indignation to judgment to the keyboard.

      I watch how much they spend up there at the tippy-top of the gentlemen’s playground and the truth is it makes me dizzy. The sport does of course make money for some of the participants and Ferrari is probably one of those. Which company under his control would Marchionne be favoring? How could this possibly work? Even Honda is hanging on by its finger nails. Would this be to transfer some Ferrari costs to Alfa Romeo?

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Please, I can offer some counter examples: Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Hass. They have succeeded where others failed. Let the losers fail. Nobody will miss them.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        And force India is doing quite well, just off their best season ever. Their owner is still in legal trouble, but that’s not related to the F1 team, and his absence seems to have been beneficial.

        The USF1 failure was of its own making. They did not have the resources (human, and later financial) to enter the sport. The only way F1 is to blame for that mess is that their screening process was too lax.

        Lots of people make money in F1. Teams come and go, but the major players have long careers. A good example of that is following Tyrell to BAR to Honda to Brawn to Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      Brett Woods

      “Instead of being a genuine F1 contender, he imagines Alfa as the junior varsity team designed to condition future talent for its big-league brother.”

      Well I think there might be some precedence in Alfa motor racing history for this sort of car. I will have to re-watch the TV show where Alain de Cadenet drives Alfa Romeos’ from their competitive hay day, the awesome “Victory by Design” series! Don’t know if pedigree and branding, and benchmarking matter much today.

      As suggested, an Alfa Romeo team that is affiliated with Ferrari will be compared with Toro Rosso and I think that’s more than a big ask given that FCA is on its first firm financial footing in years. Surely, Alfa has enough to worry about with supplying and stabilizing their market share in North America. That huge move – which seems to have been pulled off flawlessly, should be enough of a challenge. Anyhow, is F1 the place to field a farm team for Italian Drivers?

      I do like the idea of an Alfa Romeo/Toro Rosso car running out of the Toro Rosso Garage. I can see the nice badging and paint job. I just can’t imagine the deep pockets for a committed sponsorship and if they drop out later on it looks like weakness and failure. The article says it would be against the rules. I wonder what rules Sergio Marchionne would be breaking as the CEO of two competing companies?

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Just put an Alfa in my driveway and stop this foolishness. Anyone who proclaims themselves to be a car guy needs to own an Italian car. I had an Alfa 75 (Milano in the US). It was terrible, but I have wanted another one every since.

  • avatar

    Dunno, Sergio… The Giulia doesn’t seem to sell that brilliantly in Europe. And then there’s the Alfa Stelvio that FCA has spent all its spare cash on. Might not be too much left to soothe your ego in F1.

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