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It's goodbye to Sauber - or is it?

Bryan Edwards

One of the pluckiest teams in F1 for many years has been the outfit created by Peter Sauber and which has, more or less continuously, carried his name since (there was a short period where it appeared to be known as BMW). But now it's been adopted by the Fiat group which has gone from sticking the Alfa Romeo logo on the fin in return for money to a rather more involved - and stable - relationship. The announcement that the team would be renamed "Alfa Romeo Racing" made much of the long term funding. So does that mean the Sauber name is gone for evermore?

The simple answer is.. not necessarily. Fiat group (technically Fiat Chrysler) is not taking ownership of the team: the deal is for money and technical assistance in return for full naming rights.

That begs the question, if Alfa is to become the Fiat Group's second team (albeit not owned by them) where does that leave HAAS which appeared to be, in effect, the Ferrari B Team, so much so that there were even questions as to how much HAAS and how much Ferrari was in a HAAS car (not much HAAS, actually, as the chassis development was outsourced but not as much Ferrari as many thought).

Sauber were third last in 2018's championship but it wasn't for lack of effort on the part of either the factory or the drivers. The team will continue under the same owners and managers and it already uses Ferrari's engines. So what's the big deal?

The funding will be helpful but there are two things that are even more useful: closer technical collaboration with (for which read getting the benefit of the research by) Ferrari but also perhaps now the move by Kimi Raikkonen, with which he was so clearly happy, may make more sense. he's going to get to live nearer to his family, which is what he wanted, and he's going to still be part of the Ferrari "family." He's going to be number 1, he's not going to have to deal with Vettel's erratic moods and he's going to be able to enjoy racing without the obvious pressure of winning - which is funny because he collected so many podia in 2018 but attention is always focussed on the top step.

So, with everything lined up, only one thing remains. What if the fickle Fiat-Ferrari mob decide they want out of the Alfa team. There is no doubt they will want to take their name with them. It would be a brave man who bet against there once more being a Sauber on the grid in the future.

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