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Alfa Romeo rules out F1 for now, citing ethical dilemma

Alfa Romeo rules out F1 for now, citing ethical dilemma
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Alfa Romeo is set to make a comeback in elite motorsport, though it seems unlikely that this will include Formula 1.

Alfa Romeo is set to make a comeback in elite motorsport, though it seems unlikely that this will include Formula 1.

Last season marked the end of Alfa Romeo's participation in F1 as their branding agreement with Sauber concluded, with the Swiss outfit progressing towards becoming a fully integrated Audi factory team.

Stellantis, Alfa Romeo's holding company, acknowledges some misgivings about pausing their Formula 1 aspirations, under the leadership of CEO Carlos Tavares.

"When you look at the return on investment, Formula 1 is probably the most efficient marketing tool," Tavares noted during the latest Formula E event in Misano, Italy.

"In terms of media impact, it is the best category," he further noted, adding, "Before the budget cap, expenses were between 100 and 500 million euros per year."

"The cost cap is a good tool for levelling costs and the return on investment, which is why Formula 1 is the best marketing tool in racing."

Previously, Alfa Romeo's engagement with Sauber was predominantly for promotional purposes, though the car manufacturer did engage to some extent in technical partnerships, working alongside team collaborator Ferrari.

"Formula 1 is a fantastic tool for developing hybrid technology," Tavares continued. "The only problem they have is that they will run up against the 2035 combustion engine ban."

The European mandate from 2035 will outlaw the sale of new road vehicles that emit CO2.

"This is a question for the leaders of Formula 1," Tavares posed. "What will you do when the automotive industry faces the combustion engine ban?"

"So far they have used hybrid technology to contribute to the development of batteries and many other components, but they still have this strategic problem to solve."

Tavares also expressed that the financial burden of Alfa Romeo's participation in F1 is tough to defend.

"We need to make an ethical reasoning and think about the people I have in the factory, who count pennies to be able to compete on the zero-emission mobility market against Asian competitors," Tavares declared. "How can I look the workers in the eye and tell them we spend 20 million on Formula 1 while they ask for a few cents?"

"It is an ethical issue that I am very sensitive to, because I am very close to my workers," he added. "Ethically this is a problem for Formula 1 as well."

Despite this, Tavares confirmed that Alfa Romeo would reintroduce its presence in top-tier racing, though specifics on the series remain undisclosed.

"Motorsport is part of the DNA of the brand," he emphasized. "The decision won't be taken before the end of this year in all likelihood, but Alfa Romeo will definitely be back."

"Every sports series lives in cycles - a reasonable start, an expansion, an explosion, a decline and then we start again. So it is essential to enter a championship at the right time."

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