CEO Tavares spills on Alfa Romeo’s future in F1

Alfa Romeo, the prestigious Italian automotive brand, recently announced a shift in its motorsport strategy following the conclusion of its Formula 1 partnership with Sauber. The termination coincided with Sauber’s transition to Audi ownership.

Stellantis, the parent company of Alfa Romeo, acknowledges some regrets concerning their withdrawal from Formula 1, as stated by CEO Carlos Tavares. Tavares, speaking during the latest Formula E event in Misano, Italy, noted, “When you look at the return on investment, Formula 1 is probably the most efficient marketing tool.” He further highlighted, “In terms of media impact, it is the best category,” and elaborated on the financial aspects of the sport: “Before the budget cap, expenses were between 100 and 500 million euros per year. The cost cap is a good tool for levelling costs and the return on investment, which is why Formula 1 is the best marketing tool in racing.”

While previously involved with Sauber, Alfa Romeo engaged somewhat in technical collaboration through its partnership with Ferrari. Tavares praised the technical merits of the sport, asserting, “Formula 1 is a fantastic tool for developing hybrid technology.” However, he pointed out a significant challenge: “The only problem they have is that they will run up against the 2035 combustion engine ban.”

This upcoming regulation poses a dilemma for the motorsport industry, as it will ban CO2-emitting vehicles in Europe starting in 2035. Tavares questioned the future of Formula 1 in this context: “This is a question for the leaders of Formula 1,” he said. “What will you do when the automotive industry faces the combustion engine ban? So far they have used hybrid technology to contribute to the development of batteries and many other components, but they still have this strategic problem to solve.”

Tavares also reflected on the ethical considerations of Alfa Romeo’s involvement in F1, particularly in light of the financial strain. “We need to make an ethical reasoning and think about the people I have in the factory, who count pennies to be able to compete on the zero-emission mobility market against Asian competitors,” he remarked. “How can I look the workers in the eye and tell them we spend 20 million on Formula 1 while they ask for a few cents? It is an ethical issue that I am very sensitive to because I am very close to my workers. Ethically this is a problem for Formula 1 as well.”

Despite these challenges, Tavares confirmed that Alfa Romeo plans to re-enter top-tier motor racing, though he did not specify which series. Emphasizing the brand’s commitment, he stated, “Motorsport is part of the DNA of the brand. The decision won’t be taken before the end of this year in all likelihood, but Alfa Romeo will definitely be back.” He also described the cyclic nature of sports series, noting, “Every sports series lives in cycles—a reasonable start, an expansion, an explosion, a decline and then we start again. So it is essential to enter a championship at the right time.”

GMM

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