Up until late last year Sergio Marchionne kept a low profile at Maranello, but since then he has orchestrated a massive revolution within Ferrari and has now hinted that Alfa Romeo, who have a branding presence on this year’s SF15-T, may return Formula 1.
Marchionne explained the reasoning behind adding the iconic Alfa Romeo badge to the livery of this year’s Ferrari.
“I was at the Ferrari museum,” said the Italian-Canadian, “and you can see the story with a great closeness to Alfa Romeo.”
Asked if the association between F1 and Alfa Romeo might be developed in the future, Marchionne added: “Maybe. Who knows. Anything is possible.”
Alfa Romeo made it’s grand prix debut at the first ever Formula 1 World Championship race of the modern era, the 1950 British Grand Prix.
The team competed in 110 grands prix, winning ten times and claiming two drivers’ world titles in 1950 and 1951 with Nini Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio respectively.
The team pulled out of Formula 1 in 1952, and thereafter Alfa Romeo engines powered a number of privateer teams with limited success and little factory backing or interest..
In 1976 Bernie Ecclestone did a deal for his Brabham Formula 1 team to use Alfa Romeo engines based on their new flat-12 sports car unit.
A year later, led by engineer Carlo Chiti, Alfa Romeo gave Autodelta permission to start developing a Formula 1 car on their behalf. Thus named the Alfa Romeo 177, the car made its debut at the 1979 Belgian Grand Prix.
What followed were six years of under achievement and the 1985 Australian Grand Prix was there final race.
Meanwhile it has emerged that Marchionne has backed the move to delay any major technical revolution in Formula 1 until 2017.
It had appeared that Ferrari was leading the charge for rapid change, when on the very day the F1 Commission met to vote on proposed changes for 2016, it published images of its radical-looking ‘concept car’.
But Marchionne, the Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari president, told Italian-language reporters at the Barcelona test that he was actually not in favour of 1,000 horse power engines and radically different cars making their bow next year.
“Do not confuse what can be done in 2015 for 2016 and what can be done for 2017,” he is quoted as saying.
“The changes for 2016 would have created big problems in the management both for us and for Mercedes,” Marchionne insisted.
“We decided to address the matter of bigger tyres, wider cars and more powerful engines for 2017,” he explained.
“The current regulations will remain valid also next year. To change the rules from scratch would have created huge problems. We should not mess around: these are bullets on the track and they are not invented overnight.”
“It is easy to make changes on paper, but you have to make them work on the track,” said Marchionne.