Carlos Tavares, the CEO of Alfa Romeo’s parent company, says the brand will simply leave Formula 1 at the end of the 2023 season.
Even prior to Wednesday’s news about Sauber teaming up with Audi for the new engine rules in 2026, it was known that the Swiss F1 team would part ways with naming sponsor Alfa Romeo late next year.
And now Tavares, head of Alfa Romeo owner Stellantis, says he is comfortable with the news.
“You have to look things objectively,” he told the French sports daily L’Equipe.
“The partnership we had with Sauber was a quality agreement which was very well negotiated by my predecessor. We used it very well through the recovery period of the Alfa Romeo brand in the market.
“Today, the brand is very profitable and in full revival. The conditions are changing and we have no desire at all to put into F1 the enormity of the resources that will be invested by some of our competitors.
“So we withdraw, cleanly and kindly.”
It is believed Audi, owned by Volkswagen, will buy a full 75 percent of Hinwil-based Sauber – with the transaction rumoured to be done 25pc at a time over the next three years.
Tavares said of the Sauber-Alfa Romeo collaboration: “We used F1 more with this partnership with Sauber than they used us. From that point of view, everything that happened is rational.
“The job is done. We are going to come back to another discipline which has not yet been decided. Jean-Philippe Imparato, the boss of Alfa Romeo, will submit his options to me.
“But one thing is certain – the brand will be present in motorsport after 2023, when our agreement with Sauber ends. Given the history of the brand, it’s a no-brainer,” he said.
Formula 1 and the FIA welcomed Wednesday’s news of the Sauber-Audi collaboration, as did the Swiss team’s founder Peter Sauber.
“It’s a big day for my former team,” said the 79-year-old. “I can well imagine that the Audi-Sauber project will outlast me.”
Audi’s F1 project chief, Adam Baker, ruled out getting the collaboration started before 2026.
“No. It will not be before 2026,” he told Marca sports newspaper.
Indeed, work is underway on the expansion of Audi’s Neuburg facility, where the Formula 1 engine will be designed and built.
That will mean the Audi-Sauber partnership operates completely outside of the mainstream motorsport hub in England.
“Look at Ferrari,” said Baker. “They also do it and it has gone well for them.
“You can be competitive outside the United Kingdom, because we also have people with great technical competence and it is interesting and stimulating for the region and for Germany to have a team there again.”