Although its name is no longer on the grid, Sauber continues to be involved in Formula 1 since the famous Swiss team has been managing Alfa Romeo’s activities since its return to the premier class in 2019. And last year, Sauber was in the process of handing over the team keys to Andretti Autosport, run by former driver Michael Andretti, son of F1 World Champion Mario Andretti.
The American structure enjoys an important presence in the world of motorsport: it is engaged in IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E or even Supercars. The takeover of the Sauber group would therefore have extended its reach to Formula 1.
Eventually, negotiations broke down at the last moment due to « control issues », according to Michael Andretti. There is no doubt that such talks have had a big impact on Alfa Romeo’s plans for 2022 and beyond. However, Frédéric Vasseur, team director, insisted that the negotiations had not had such an impact.
« We haven’t paused the technical part at all and we haven’t slackened off the development, that’s for sure. », launched Vasseur at the microphone of Motorsport.com. « On certain topics of discussion, on sponsors, drivers, etc., we had to be a little more present. But in the end, that does not change the situation. It had no impact, if not that we have postponed some decisions. «
Today, the Italian-Swiss team are looking to bounce back after slipping to ninth place in the championship in 2021. Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou form the new driver duo, replacing the pair Kimi Räikkönen-Antonio Giovinazzi who had been in the lineup since 2019. The arrival of Zhou, the first Chinese rider in history, offers a significant financial boost thanks to his sponsors, while Bottas can count on five years of experience in an eight-time reigning World Champion team .
And according to Vasseur, it is necessary to « first build the foundations of the house » before proceeding « step by step » to the rise of Alfa Romeo in the hierarchy. « For next year, it’s a new project that is being developed under a budget ceiling », he said. “We have a new line-up. We will have a new Ferrari engine. We try to put it all together. But everyone is doing the same. Everyone is trying to improve the line-up, everyone is trying to improve the engine, everyone is recruiting. «
“This is surely the best part of your job. Everyone is focused on performance and is convinced that we will do a better job tomorrow. This is the biggest source of motivation. In the end, someone will be P1 and someone else will be P10. We will have good and bad results. The most important thing is that in our company, from the shareholder to the factory worker, everyone is convinced that we are moving forward in the right direction. It’s important to me because we need everyone’s support. «