Alfa Romeo is revving up for a new chapter in its racing journey, setting its sights on the World Endurance Championship after bidding farewell to Formula 1.
The Italian marque's title sponsorship deal with the Sauber team concluded at the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, marking the end of a fruitful six-year partnership.
While there were rumors of a potential tie-up with Haas, discussions never progressed beyond preliminary stages.
However, Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato has confirmed the company's unwavering commitment to motorsport and emphasized that a move to WEC is the most favorable path forward.
The French executive shed light on the reason why a tie-up with Haas was dismissed by the Quadrifoglio brand.
“We weren't interested in aiming to do a copy/paste operation in the style of the one done with Sauber,” Imparato explained, quoted by motorsport.com.
“It would have led us to become one of those who puts stickers on bodywork. It would no longer have been new and we wouldn't have been part of a story.
“We started looking at something else, quickly reaching a conclusion. Alfa Romeo has nothing to do with the world of rallying, the Stellantis group already has two brands involved in Formula E, and so the focus has shifted to the WEC, a world in which Alfa Romeo has lived in the past wonderful experiences."
Despite the early termination of its partnership with Sauber due to the Swiss outfit’s takeover by Audi, Imparato emphasized the significant return on investment enjoyed by Alfa Romeo during its six-year presence in F1.
“I would say [it was] the best investment in history,” he said. “We can say that in terms of image return, for every euro we spent we received 20 back.
“At the same time, we are a little sad because we are leaving a team that has embraced our brand for six years, and with which we have had an extraordinary relationship."
Alfa Romeo is still evaluating its options for entering the WEC, with Imparato emphasizing the need for careful consideration before making a decision.
While the WEC is experiencing a surge in interest, Imparato cautions against impulsive decisions and stresses the importance of fully understanding the financial implications of participating in the top-tier racing series.
“The WEC world is experiencing a moment of great interest, and when there is a lot of euphoria it becomes difficult to understand what level of investment is necessary to aim for the highest goals,” he said.
“We saw in 2015 [in LMP1] that uncontrolled cost escalation ultimately rebounds, so we took some time to understand how this will all play out.
“I believe it is correct to have a clear picture and know precisely what you are facing before launching into a project."
Imparato alluded to a partnership with fellow Stellantis brand Peugeot as a potential opportunity.
“Obviously it's one of the scenarios we evaluated,” he commented. “There are already houses within the Stellantis group whose sports programmes are in close contact, for example DS and Maserati in Formula E.
“When we return to the track we will do so with the support of Stellantis' motorsport projects, and as Peugeot is already present in the WEC obviously co-operation is more than possible. Then perhaps the two projects may have parallel paths in other aspects, but in the end we are in the same family.
“However, I would like to clarify that at the moment we are not yet able to confirm anything. We will do so when we have completed the planning and evaluation of the investment."