Red Bull - Alfa?

Red Bull - Alfa?

Imagine Max Verstappen in a Red Bull racer powered by a Honda power-plant re-badged as an Alfa Romeo.

That is not as far fetched as it first sounds.

A Red Bull-Alfa could potentially work well for both parties.

There is a misconception in Formula One and its followers that Alfa Romeo and Ferrari are both owned by Fiat.

That used to be the case, but Ferrari was floated on the New York Stock Exchange and is now independent, although the two firms share some stockholders and John Elkann is chairman of both.

However, they are not the same company and are independent of one another and, strange though it may seem, Ferrari is now valued at more than $US30 billion ($42bn), while Fiat (once Ferrari’s parent) is worth only about half that figure.

Alfa Romeo’s decision to re-brand Sauber of Switzerland – also once the BMW factory team – was taken in 2018 by Sergio Marchionne, who was Fiat chairman at the time.

It was a pet project of his, and there was some possibility that Alfa Romeo would take over the Swiss team, but Marchionne died suddenly that summer leaving the F1 program making no real sense.

The team has not done well and Alfa Romeo sales have not been booming, although the deal goes on in 2021 while team boss Fred Vasseur is trying to give the impression that this may be extended.

It is hard to know what will happen because Alfa Romeo’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is in the process of merging (or being taken over by) Group PSA, the parent of the Peugeot group.

It is not clear whether the new Stellantis operation will keep all of the brands that will come under the same roof and there is clearly a chance that some will be axed.

The man who will lead Stellantis is Carlos Tavares, who is a big fan of racing and keen on racing brands.

He will probably not want to see Alfa Romeo disappear but is unlikely to be impressed by the job being done by Sauber. Having said that, the deal is a cheap one in overall terms.

However, there is a danger for the team in that Tavares has a lengthy history with Red Bull Racing. He was involved back in 2011 when he was a Renault executive and put together the Infiniti-Red Bull deal with the upscale division of the Nissan-Renault Alliance.
Tavares was also the man who revived the Alpine sports car brand, which will be used in F1 next year by Renault.

This new Stellantis will have a lengthy list of brands: Peugeot, Fiat, Citroen, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, DS, Abarth, Lancia, Vauxhall, Opel, Maserati and Alfa Romeo.

So if Tavares decides to keep Alfa Romeo it would be logical to do a deal with Red Bull, which is looking for a car company to brand the Honda engines if the Austrians decide to buy the program once Honda withdraws.

This seems likely as the alternative engine suppliers all have factory teams and so Red Bull would not be comfortable. Mercedes has already said no.

Being a Ferrari customer has long been a waste of time and Renault and Red Bull have a troubled history, despite the success they achieved.