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Alfa Romeo focused on WEC switch after ruling out staying in F1

The Italian manufacturer’s title sponsorship deal with the Sauber team came to an end at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, following a successful six years together. 

And while Alfa Romeo was linked with a possible tie-up with Haas instead, and did speak to the American-owned outfit, negotiations never got very far. 

Now, Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato has explained to that, with his company determined to remain in motorsport, a move to WEC is now the most likely route. 

Asked about the Haas situation and why things did not progress, Imparato said: “We weren't interested in aiming to do a copy/paste operation in the style of the one done with Sauber.  

“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." 

Start action (Photo by: Ferrari)

Imparato has explained that no final decision has been made about how Alfa Romeo would make its step into WEC though, as it was currently evaluating the most cost-efficient way of doing it. 

“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." 

One possibility could be to tie-up with Peugeot, which is part of the same Stellantis group. 

“Obviously it's one of the scenarios we evaluated,” added Imparato  

“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". 

Although Alfa Romeo’s F1 sponsorship with Sauber was forced to end early because of the team’s takeover by Audi, Imparato said he had no regrets about their many years together – as he said the return on investment was incredible. 

“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." 

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