No Alfa Romeo F1 return for ’ethical’ reasons - CEO

"Every sports series lives in cycles"


16 April 2024 - 17:17
No Alfa Romeo F1 return for 'ethica

Alfa Romeo will return to premier motorsport - but it probably won’t be Formula 1.

The luxury Italian carmaker exited F1 at the end of last season, as the naming deal with Sauber ended and the Swiss team continued its current transition to full works Audi ownership.

And from the perspective of Alfa Romeo’s parent company Stellantis, led by CEO Carlos Tavares, there are certain regrets about the end of the F1 dream for now.

"When you look at the return on investment, Formula 1 is probably the most efficient marketing tool," Tavares said at the most recent round of the Formula E series in Misano, Italy.

"In terms of media impact, it is the best category," he added. "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."

Alfa Romeo’s deal with Sauber was mainly for marketing, but the carmaker did get somewhat involved on the technical side in collaboration with team supplier Ferrari.

"Formula 1 is a fantastic tool for developing hybrid technology," Tavares continues. "The only problem they have is that they will run up against the 2035 combustion engine ban."

Indeed, from 2035, new road cars emitting any sort of CO2 will be banned in Europe.

"This is a question for the leaders of Formula 1," said Tavares. "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."

He also says the cost of Alfa Romeo’s involvement in F1 from a financial perspective is also difficult to justify.

"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," said Tavares. "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," he explained. "Ethically this is a problem for Formula 1 as well."

However, Tavares said he will nonetheless revive Alfa Romeo’s involvement in premier motor racing - without giving any hints about what series this may be.

"Motorsport is part of the DNA of the brand," he insisted. "The decision won’t be taken before the end of this year in all likelihood, but Alfa Romeo will definitely be back.

"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."


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