Latest news about the Alfa Romeo Racing F1 team, info and history on the team and drivers (Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi) for the 2019 World Championship.
Alfa Romeo Racing - Latest News:
Alfa Romeo Racing - History:
Having made its first appearance in Formula One in 1993, only three teams (Ferrari, McLaren and Williams) have been in the sport longer than Sauber. Swiss sports car maker Peter Sauber originally set up the business in 1970, the first Sauber-built chassis – the C1, named for his wife Christine – finding immediate success by winning that year’s Swiss sports car hillclimbing championship.
After using turbocharged Mercedes V8 engines in the 1980s, the team became the marque’s official factory team in the World Sports Prototype Championship and finished 1-2 in the 1989 Le Mans 24 Hours. Among drivers developed by Sauber during this time were Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger and Jochen Mass.
Sauber finally made the jump into Formula One with Wendlinger paired with JJ Lehto for the team’s début at the 1993 South African Grand Prix. It was Lehto who clinched the team’s first championship points with fifth place on their maiden outing, and the team continued to regularly score points throughout the seasons that followed although they had to wait until Spa 1995 before Frentzen sealed their first podium. Unfortunately retirements plagued the team and prevented Sauber from featuring in title battles.
Sauber took up a long-term relationship with Ferrari as engine suppliers from 1997. Drivers who came to race for the team over the years included Johnny Herbert, Jean Alesi, Mika Salo, Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella. The team’s best season during this period was in 2001, when a breakout performance by a fresh-faced Kimi Raikkonen propelled them to fourth place in the constructors championship.
The team was doing a great job incubating new talent, but each time Sauber appeared on the verge of success the story went the same way – Raikkonen was quickly poached by McLaren. Sauber finally decided to sell a majority stake in his team to engine manufacturers BMW in 2005, the influx of talent and cash helping the squad become runners-up in the constructors championship in 2007 with drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, who was deputised at Indianapolis by test driver Sebastian Vettel making his Formula One début.
Kubica clinched what is currently the team’s only win, in Canada in 2008. The team finished third that season, but the following year BMW shocked everyone by pulling out of Formula One. Sauber bought back BMW’s stake in a now pared-back team and renewed his old partnership with Ferrari, but times have been tough financially ever since. Sauber sold one-third of the business to Monisha Kaltenborn who became team principal in 2012, the same year that a young Sergio Pérez dazzled with three podium successes.
Sadly title success seems as far away as ever for Sauber, but simply surviving this long in Formula One is a massive achievement. The sport is indebted to the team for the talent it has nurtured over the years, including Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson who returned to the line-up for a second consecutive season in 2016. A takeover by Longbow Finance in July 2016 sees Peter Sauber depart the sport once again, but the name remains and does so with a brighter future.
For 2017 the team signed German youngster Pascal Wehrlein and retained Marcus Ericsson in their driver lineup. Wehrlein was forced to miss the Australian and Chinese Grand Prix after suffering an injury during the Race of Champions. Wehrlein would outscore his teammate, producing 5 points for the team over the course of the season.
2018 saw Charles Leclerc join Alfa Romeo, and the youngster soon made an impact. He finished the season with 39 points to Ericsson’s nine. Ferrari came calling and promoted Leclerc to a race seat in 2019. The move meant Kimi Raikonnen would return to the team he started his career at while Ericsson was let go, with Italian Antonio Giovinazzi signed up to take the seat.