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Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Team Profile

The story of the modern-day Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team is a complex one. On the surface, Alfa Romeo is a famous Italian car manufacturer that pre-dates Ferrari. Indeed, Enzo Ferrari actually raced for Alfa Romeo in the 1920s…

When the FIA Formula 1 World Championship was formerly inaugurated in 1950, an Alfa Romeo driven by Giuseppe Farina took the very first victory at Silverstone and wrapped up the first Drivers’ World Championship with another win at the final round at Monza. But by the following year, Alfa had withdrawn from Grand Prix racing, as Enzo’s newly established Ferrari team were rising to prominence.

After a foray into sportscars, 25 years later Alfa Romeo returned to Formula 1 as an engine supplier to the Brabham team in 1976. They became a fully-fledged constructor three years later but their outings in F1 were inauspicious to say the least. At the end of 1985 they had retreated into the shadows once more.

Completely separately, a Swiss motor racing enthusiast called Peter Sauber started a team and entered the World Endurance Championship for sportscars in the early 1990s. With backing from Mercedes, he ran their junior drivers and gained success thanks to the standout displays from a certain Michael Schumacher.

In 1993 Mercedes helped Sauber launch a Formula 1 team and the constructor has been competing in Formula 1 ever since, with the help of different manufacturers and sponsors along the way. Before Red Bull established their own team, they ran logos on Sauber’s cars and the little Swiss squad have always been associated with nurturing young talent, giving debuts to future greats such as Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. However, success has been hard to come by for the team based 30 minutes from Zurich.

A tie-up with BMW secured their one and only Grand Prix victory at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, but when the German manufacturer quit the sport at the end of the following year, it signalled a downward spell for the team.

Founder Peter Sauber ultimately sold the outfit to a consortium and a period in the wilderness ended when a deal was struck with Alfa Romeo. In 2018 the Italian manufacturer tied the knot with Sauber to begin a partnership that lasts to this day. While initially referred to as ‘Alfa Romeo Sauber’ the latter part of the name has since been dropped, but make no mistake, at the beating heart of this racing team is the organisation that has built F1 cars since the early 1990s.

This is why the Italian outfit proudly displayed Swiss flags in their team motorhome for Switzerland’s national day during the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this year.