Berlin - Alfa Romeo on Wednesday announced its return to Formula One racing after more than three decades.
The iconic Italian automaker signed a multi-year partnership agreement with Swiss Sauber F1 Team for participation in the F1 world championship beginning with the 2018 season. The team's official name will be Alfa Romeo Sauber F1. The cars will sport the distinctive colours and logo of Alfa Romeo and will be powered by 2018 Ferrari power units.
Alfa Romeo is part of the Fiat Chrysler group (FCA) which also includes Ferrari. The marque won the first two F1 world titles in 1950 and 1951 and later was an engine supplier for several teams before withdrawing in 1985.
A storied brand that has helped make the history of this sport, Alfa Romeo will join other major automakers that currently participate in F1 including Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, McLaren and Renault.
"This agreement with the Sauber F1 Team is a significant step in the reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand, which will return to Formula 1 after an absence of more than 30 years," FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said.
Sauber chairman Pascal Picci said: "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."
Sauber has been in F1 since 1993 but has struggled lately, finishing tenth and last in the 2017 season which ended on Sunday.
Pascal Picci, Chairman of Sauber Holding AG, commented: "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."
Alfa Romeo is known around the world for its racing heritage. The marque participated in Formula 1 from 1950 to 1988, both as a constructor and engine supplier. Immediately upon its debut, Alfa Romeo won the first two drivers' world championships, in 1950 and 1951, with drivers Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio.
From 1961 to 1979, Alfa Romeo participated as engine supplier to several F1 teams. Following its return as a constructor in 1979, Alfa Romeo achieved its best result in 1983, taking sixth place in the constructors' championship.
In 1970 Peter Sauber founded his company and designed his first racing car in the cellar of his parents' house. The race team grew steadily and enjoyed its first major international successes in the late 1980s. As the Mercedes works team, Sauber celebrated a one-two victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1989 and back-to-back Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles in the World Sports Car Championship in 1989 and 1990.
In 1993 Sauber entered Formula One. Among the team's F1 highlights have been a fourth-place finish in the F1 constructors' championship in 2001 as an independent team and - in partnership with BMW - a one-two finish in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix on the way to third place in the constructors' standings that year.
In 2010 Sauber became an independent outfit once again, and had a very good year in 2012 headlined by four podium finishes and sixth place in the constructors' standings.
The team has yet to announce its 2018 line-up, which is expected to be Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson.