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Alfa Romeo is heading back to Formula One

From 2018, it’s team Alfa Romeo Sauber F1. What could go wrong?

You read that right. Alfa Romeo is entering Formula One. In 2018. A brand known and loved for often beautiful, sometimes unreliable and recently quite-good-to-drive Italian motoring is getting stuck into the world’s premier motor racing series. This can only end well, right?

Alfa isn’t going it alone as a manufacturer. Instead, it’s signed what it’s calling a ‘strategic, commercial and technological co-operation’ with the existing Swiss Sauber team, which currently employs drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.

It’s the ‘technological’ part that intrigues us most, because it ought to mean that Alfa Romeo’s not simply asking parent-company Fiat-Chrysler to stump up a large pot of Euros in return for an Alfa sticker on the nose of next year’s Sauber. Alfa might be getting stuck into the oily bits. Imagine that…

Sauber had previously been slated to join forces with the much-maligned Honda F1 engine from 2018, but that partnership was shelved mid-season in 2017, and we now know why: by bringing Alfa on-board, this effectively becomes the Fiat group’s junior F1 team, behind Ferrari. And will use Ferrari’s competitive turbo V6 hybrid power unit. 

It’s a far cry from the powerplants in use the last time Alfa Romeo took part in Formula One. Though Alfa’s main F1 success came with world titles in 1950 and 1951, in the mid 1980s it developed infamously powerful, thirsty and unreliable turbo engines with over 800bhp, before leaving the sport as a constructor in 1985. Alfa also planned a naturally aspirated V10 with over 600bhp to supply teams when turbos were banned, but cancelled the project in 1987. 

Here’s what Sauber boss Pascal Picci had to say: “We are very pleased to welcome Alfa Romeo to the Sauber F1 Team. Alfa Romeo has a long history of success in Grand Prix racing, and we are very proud that this internationally renowned company has chosen to work with us for its return to the pinnacle of motorsport.

“Working closely with a car manufacturer is a great opportunity for the Sauber Group to further develop its technology and engineering projects. We are confident that together we can bring the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team great success, and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

What do you reckon, internet hive mind? A recipe for racing success, or a formula for flamboyant failure?

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