Alfa Romeo CEO, Jean-Philippe Imperato, has insisted that there are a number of avenues the Italian car maker could go down after they split with Sauber at the end of 2023.
Alfa have a rich history in Formula 1, winning the first-ever championship race in Silverstone in 1950 through Giuseppe Farina.
The Italian, and then Juan Manuel Fangio, both drove for the Turin-based outfit when they won the first two titles in 1950 and 1951 respectively, but their 10th win in the latter of those years would also be their last.
They left the pinnacle of motorsport in 1985 having teamed up with Benetton, but they would make a sensational return in 2018.
Imperato’s company agreed a deal to share the naming rights with a Sauber Group who were struggling to make ends meet, and they bought full naming rights a year later.
Though Alfa Romeo’s name is on the letterhead, they have little to do with the running of the team; that is still very much done by Sauber and partly by Ferrari, who provide powertrains.
However, the relationship between the two parties will end ahead of the 2024 season, and Audi are expected to buy Sauber in 2026.
This will be a full takeover that will see the operation leave Switzerland for Germany.
Alfa Romeo have been linked with a partnership with Haas, as well as moves to other motorsport series, but Imperato has time on his hands, so he does not need to rush into anything at this time.
“I’m totally open to everything, by the way, it’s a period that gives me the opportunity to study everything with no pressure. That’s what I have,” he told Autosport.
“And I would say, even if we have to take a decision before the end of this year, we have some weeks, months, to see how is the business, and as well to choose in a kind of serene atmosphere.
“So I’m not in a hurry, everything is on the table, I would say. I would love to find the best compromise between motorsport DNA, and the EV transition that you see.
“What I’m trying to build is this consistency between my history and the necessary existential move that I have to do. And it’s not obvious I would say, between the DNA history, and the switch.”
The Frenchman values the relationship he has with Frederic Vasseur’s team.
“The need for clarity seems to be very important. So what I wanted to send as a message was super simple. One, I renew the contract with Sauber Engineering for 2023, for one reason – we are happy with them,” explained Imperato.
“Not only on the business side, because on the business side, I have probably the best return on investment of the paddock, but on the way we are working together.
“We are working on special editions, but as well we organised special events together with GTA owners, with classic owners. We are happy to be together.
“Second message, never forget that I have with Sauber Engineering an annual contract with yearly assessment. And I can exit each and every end of July of any year.
“Third message, 2024 will be the first year when I launch a 100% EV offer for Alfa Romeo, so at one point of time, as we cannot plan for three months, I have to plan for more than that.
“So I said, ‘guys, we have to open a new chapter of our history, a new chapter of our adventure’, so it’s more than a history with Sauber, and with motorsport, and let’s benefit from this context to be clear. And that was a sense of our communication.”
Imperato is not completely sure if Alfa Romeo’s future lies in F1, but if it does, he would like to maintain a relationship with Ferrari.
“Nothing definitive on ’24, absolutely nothing. Today I’m focused on 2022-23. In the coming months, I can say that, we will be ready to open the 2024, ‘25, ‘26 consideration and studies,” he added.
“And I will come back to you the day I will consider that I have something that is consistent with my DNA, with the Italian sportiness of Alfa Romeo.
“I need to be consistent – Italian sportiness, for me it’s the signature of Alfa Romeo.
“It’s very clear, for the sake of clarity once more, we will never run with another engine than Ferrari if we were to stay in F1.”
Alfa Romeo are sixth in the Constructors’ Standings in what has been a solid season with their new driver pairing of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas.
The Finn is signed for next season, but the 22-year-old is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal beyond the end of 2022.