Alfa F1 return requires improved road car sales

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss Sergio Marchionne says a return of the Alfa Romeo brand to Formula One will require increased road car sales in the coming years.

Alfa Romeo launched its new Giulia road car this week as it attempts to position itself as a rival to the likes of Mercedes, Audi and BMW. The Giulia spearheads a series of new models set to be released over the next three years as parent company FCA invests a reported €5 billion into the historic brand.

The aim is to dramatically increase sales by 2018 and Marchionne has previously hinted that a Formula One project could be part of Alfa Romeo’s plans to boost brand awareness in its target markets. However, Marchionne said the car company is reluctant to commit funds to a factory F1 team until it sees positive returns on its investment in the Giulia.

“I do not know if Alfa Romeo will join Formula One, but if it does it will not be simply as an engine supplier, but as a full factory team,” Marchionne was quoted by Italian media at the launch of the Giulia. “Much will depend on the success of the Giulia and how many cars we sell.

“It will require serious funds. To invest in racing you need to sell a lot of cars and today we are just at the beginning.”

Alfa Romeo last entered a works team in Formula One in 1985 and has a long history of success in motorsport, stretching back beyond the formation of the F1 world championship in 1950. Its ten F1 victories and two drivers’ titles came in the first two years of the championship before the works team withdrew from the series. It existed as an engine supplier in the 1960s and 1970s before a less successful return as a constructor between 1979 and 1985.