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Alfa Romeo's Ethical Dilemma Halts F1 Return

Alfa Romeo’s Ethical Dilemma Halts F1 Return

16/04/2024

Alfa Romeo will not return to Formula 1 due to ethical concerns, despite the sport being a powerful marketing tool. The company seeks other opportunities in top motorsport categories.

Alfa Romeo will return to a top motor sports category—but it will likely not be Formula 1.

The Italian car manufacturer exited F1 at the end of last season, as the naming deal with Sauber ended and the Swiss team continues its current transition to Audi F1.

From the perspective of Alfa Romeo’s parent company, Stellantis, led by CEO Carlos Tavares, there are some regrets about the end of the F1 dream for now.

“When you look at the return on investment, Formula 1 is probably the most effective marketing tool,” Tavares said during the latest Formula E round in Misano, Italy.

“In terms of media impact, it’s the top category. Before the budget cap, spending was between 100 and 500 million euros per year.”

“The cost cap is a good tool to level costs and return on investment, which is why Formula 1 is the best marketing tool in racing.”

Alfa Romeo’s deal with Sauber was primarily about marketing, but the car manufacturer was somewhat involved technically in collaboration with the team’s supplier, Ferrari.

“Formula 1 is a fantastic tool for developing hybrid technology,” continues Tavares. “The only problem they have is that they will run into the ban on combustion engines by 2035.”

Indeed, from 2035, thermal road cars will be banned in Europe, unless the agreement is revised by then. What should F1 do if this is confirmed?

“That’s a question for Formula 1 leaders,” says Tavares. “What will you do when the automotive industry is faced with the ban on combustion engines?”

“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.”

He also states that the cost of Alfa Romeo’s involvement in F1 from a financial standpoint is also hard to justify.

“We have to make an ethical reasoning and think about the people I have in the factory, who are counting pennies to be able to compete in the zero-emission mobility market against Asian competitors. How can I look workers in the eye and tell them we are spending 20 million on Formula 1 when they are asking for a few pennies?”

“This is an ethical question that I am very sensitive to because I am very close to my workers. From an ethical standpoint, it’s also a problem for Formula 1.”

Statements that will obviously generate reactions at a time when his annual salary is nearing 40 million euros!

However, Tavares stated that he would nevertheless relaunch Alfa Romeo’s involvement in a leading series—without giving any indication of which series it might be.

“Motorsport is part of the brand’s DNA. The decision will probably not be made until the end of this year, but Alfa Romeo will certainly return.”

“Every sports series lives in cycles: a reasonable start, expansion, an explosion, a decline, and then it starts over. So, it is crucial to enter a championship at the right time.”

Alfa Romeo's Ethical Dilemma Halts F1 Return

Alfa Romeo’s Ethical Dilemma Halts F1 Return. Alfa Romeo’s Ethical Dilemma Halts F1 Return

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