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Alfa Romeo road cars set for Sauber influence

Swiss racing outfit is lending its F1 engineering talent to Alfa's performance car division

By Sam Sheehan / Wednesday, February 20, 2019

As part of ongoing efforts to reignite its sporting image, Alfa Romeo is collaborating with Formula 1 partner Sauber in the development of its future road cars. The Italian marque, which was recently promoted to Sauber title sponsor and technical partner, is working with the Swiss team's engineering division on a secret project that is said to be nearing completion.

"We are already working on another project [outside of F1] together and you will see the result quite soon," explained Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur. "It's a huge opportunity for us [Sauber], but it will involve only the guys at the factory in Switzerland, as the trackside guys are focussed on the racing."

While Vasseur wouldn't budge on specifics - his interview with PH took place in the busy Sauber motorhome after day one of pre-season testing in Barcelona - he added that Alfa and Sauber would "have more collaborations" in the future, suggesting a line-up or series of Sauber-influenced road cars might be produced - in much the same way as Red Bull Racing's relationship with Aston Martin has subsequently blossomed.

However, before we get excited about the prospect of an Iceman-edition Giulia Quadrifoglio (or, perhaps, a Polestar-like performance division that spawns from Sauber's race team), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles European design boss Klaus Busse suggested something less drastic lies at the heart of any future Sauber-Alfa road car tie-up.

"If you look at the Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglios as they are now, they're already a handful," he noted. "Unless you are a semi-pro race driver, you don't need much more than that. So the idea that something [more extreme] will come in response to our F1 team; I don't think that it's necessary because our cars now are extremely capable as they are. Their Nurburgring lap times prove that."

No Valkyrie-rivalling Alfa hypercar with a Sauber chassis, then. It's more likely that any collaboration with the Italian car maker will focus on fine-tuning and production methods. It's been done before, of course, with Renault producing numerous versions of its performance cars using a similar philosophy (see Clio 197 F1 Team and the Megane 230 equivalent), although the premium pricing of Alfa's models ought to enable an even greater take up of F1 tech.

Yes, that probably means more carbon trim on the dash and decals, but also the possibility of higher spec variants of Quadrifoglio-badged cars with F1-influenced suspension components and geometry, as well as variants signed off by Kimi Raikkonen and teammate Antonio Giovinazzi. Mix in Alfa's voracious V6 and for those of us who can't afford an AMG One or Valkyrie, it's quite the prospect...

 

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