Frédéric Vasseur Reveals Peter Sauber Talks Ahead of Sauber/Alfa Romeo Rebranding

by Paul Hensby

Frédéric Vasseur said it was important for him to get the blessing of Peter Sauber over the renaming of the Sauber F1 Team to Alfa Romeo Racing.

The Sauber name had been in Formula 1 since 1993, but it dropped off the entry list at the end of 2018 when it was renamed as Alfa Romeo, and Vasseur, the Team Principal of the Hinwil-based outfit, says the team has a long-term deal with the Italian manufacturer.

Vasseur revealed talks took place between himself and Sauber, and the former team owner gave his backing to the decision to rebrand the team ahead of the 2019 season.

“When we had the discussion with Alfa Romeo the first one I called one was Peter,” said Vasseur to Motorsport.com. “The reaction of Peter was important for me.

“He said ‘if you think that it’s a good step forward for the team, let’s do it and I will back you on this’. It was an important step for the company.

“It’s a long-term deal with Alfa Romeo and we can only build up something if you have the long-term or mid-term view. You can’t build up something with a project of three months.”

Kimi Räikkönen finished twelfth in the Drivers’ Championship in 2019 – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Alfa Romeo Made ‘Good Step’ but ‘Missed Some of our Opportunities’

Despite finishing only eighth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2019, Vasseur feels progress has been made by the team, with more points being scored than in 2018. 

The team endured a tough campaign in places, losing points due to penalties to both Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi in Germany was one of their most disappointing days, but the highlight of the year came in Brazil when the drivers finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Vasseur admits they cannot be completely satisfied with their season but there are grounds for optimism for 2020, with Räikkönen and Giovinazzi being retained to build on the potential they are beginning to show.

“Last year we were coming from absolutely nowhere, and we were very opportunistic during the season,” said Vasseur. “We score I would say we scored roughly all the points that we could have scored.

“This season is a bit different, and we are a bit less opportunistic. We missed some of our opportunities.  But at the end we end the season with more points than last year and it’s a good step. We made a step of 0.7% [in pace] to the top teams, it’s huge.

“We can’t be completely satisfied with this, we need to do more. But I think that we can be optimistic.”

Antonio Giovinazzi did enough during 2019 to convince Alfa Romeo to give him a second season with the team – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

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