Few constructors are more important to the history of Grand Prix racing than Alfa Romeo, but the Italian automaker hasn’t participated in F1 in over 30 years. Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne wants to change that, but don’t get your hopes up. Speaking to Italian publication Repubblica, Marchionne said he wants to bring Alfa Romeo back to F1 as a driver development team for Ferrari. This isn’t the first time Marchionne has suggested Alfa reenter F1, as he made similar comments to the press nearly a year ago.
“Alfa Romeo in F1 could become fine breeding ground for young Italian drivers,” said Marchionne, as translated by Autosport. “The best one, [Antonio] Giovinazzi, is already with us, but there are others besides him, and they are struggling to find room.”
Marchionne believes that an Alfa Romeo F1 team would be better suited for drivers like Giovinazzi, who is serving as Ferrari’s reserve driver in 2017, than customer teams like Haas and Sauber. Alfa Romeo F1 would also leverage Ferrari technology and engines for its cars, helping offset costs. Even with Ferrari’s help, though, an Alfa Romeo F1 entry would be expensive–something Marchionne is well aware of.
“There is room for an Alfa Romeo return, possibly as a collaboration with Ferrari,” said Marchionne. “Not now, though, because Alfa must first make money through sales of the Giulia and the Stelvio.”
That’s the critical component here. The Giulia, in 505-hp Quadrifoglio form, is a top-notch sports sedan, and the Stelvio sounds promising, but is that enough to generate sales? Alfa’s road cars need to succeed in the U.S. and China, where it doesn’t have nearly the same level of name recognition as its luxury competitors.
In other words, don’t get too excited for an Alfa Romeo F1 return until one of its cars is on the grid.