During an exclusive tour of the Alfa Romeo Sauber team's Formula 1 factory, RacingNews365 spoke with Alfa Romeo CEO Jean Philippe Imparato and Alfa Romeo chief strategy officer Cristiano Fiorio. Both were very relaxed about the possible final season for Alfa Romeo in Formula 1, after the sponsorship deal concludes at the end of 2023. "That's life," Imparato replied when asked about Alfa's impending farewell. "Although I must say right away, that we are not yet sure if we will leave Formula 1 after this season. "We will make a decision on that only at the end of June. Now we are actually still talking about a white paper, in terms of the future that can still be filled in completely. "We are looking at all the options in motorsport. At the end of June, our desire is to also communicate to the outside world what we can do. "Based on our DNA, it is very interesting for us to continue to have a presence in motorsport and so we have to weigh where we want to be present in motorsport. Everything is on the table right now for 2024 and of course everybody knows that we don't live in an easy world right now. There is a lot going on, inflation, war, regulations. "That's why we have to make the best decision. "In my view, that does show how strong the spirit is within this team," Imparato said of his drivers Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou. "The Frenchman wants to use the opportunity to thank his drivers for how they helped the brand in 2022. "Zhou directly wanted to help motivate the Alfa Romeo salesmen in China by talking to them and Bottas is attending an event of ours in Dubai just before the race weekend. "All this shows a lot of professionalism and dedication. That's why I very much enjoy working with them. In addition, on the business side, we have to start looking at what is best for our future."
Alfa Romeo has invested a lot in activating its sponsorship with Sauber in recent years and some big plans are also in the pipeline for this year, according to Alfa Romeo's head of strategy, Fiorio. "Last year we made a nice video series about the team, showing a lot of us. We are currently thinking about a sequel to this series, because even Netflix enjoyed our series," the Italian says. "They indicated that they found it interesting, and of course we told them that we will not be competition for them. On the contrary, we are doing everything we can to make the sport even bigger, just as they are. "Above all, we also want to stay close to our roots, which is why Monza is an important venue for us, since our roots are in Italy. "There we will also come up with an important announcement. In addition, every GP is important for us, precisely because we operate in all countries. Every market is important and therefore in every country where a GP is run, our department has to organize an activation in that specific country. "Jean Philippe himself just gave that example very well with the example of Zhou doing the activation of us on location in China." "That fits into the strategy Jean Philippe has in mind with Formula 1. He indicated to us when we started in F1 that we needed to do the most effective marketing around the partnership in Formula 1. For us, F1 is the most important activation of our marketing strategy."
Resources are not unlimited
"For us, Formula 1 is the goal and that's why we are totally focused on F1 and the marketing strategy is designed accordingly," adds Imparato. "After all, we cannot invest unlimited money and so we have to be as effective as possible and we have to focus." "America is a great example of that," Fiorio jumps in. "We have three races there, in three different cities and states. As a result, you have to be specific in that market as well. Miami, for example, is a very important GP for us, because almost 20% of our sales in America are in Florida - the state where Miami is located. Given Alfa Romeo's big sales in the United States, Formula 1 seems to remain an interesting option for the Italian brand to have a presence in. Indeed, the series is enjoying "explosive" growth in America, Impatato keen to "continue to work on scenarios. "But for the second quarter we are not making a decision yet. Let's focus on this year, try to finish higher than last year, but I would also be satisfied if we finish in the same position as last year," he said, describing the sixth place the team secured in the 2022 Constructors.' "That's because we always want to win, but we don't want to put too much pressure on our drivers. They are already under enough pressure so I don't put extra pressure on them," he adds. "I think it's especially important that the people on the team also have fun, that's important in my eyes because with the amounts of money going around in this world, it's at least important to have fun. "So let's say as a goal [for 2023] P6 [in the Constructors'] and have fun."