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Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN

 Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo F1 Team is in the process of helping Sauber re-establish itself in the F1 midfield.

With some of F1's biggest names in sponsorship joining the sport through the Sauber team, it isn't just the drivers that have been big names down the years. This is the story of Sauber in F1.

Mercedes and Red Bull - 1993-2005

Having established a successful sportscar racing partnership with Mercedes, introducing the likes of Michael Schumacher to the motor racing world, Sauber entered F1 in 1993 with Ilmor engines - now Mercedes based at Brixworth.

In a brilliant debut for the team in South Africa, JJ Lehto would finish fifth and collect two points but for the rest of the season, unreliability would plague the team, finishing seventh in the standings with points added to both Lehto and Karl Wendlinger's tallies.

In 1994, Heinz-Harold Frentzen replaced Lehto as the Mercedes name entered the sport. The team would finish only eighth in the standings having earned the same number of points as the year previous. Significantly, after Wendlinger's nasty accident in Monaco and the horrific events of the San Marino Grand Prix, Sauber was a pioneer in creating prototypes for cockpit protection.

Mercedes left in 1995 with Ford coming in to power Sauber, whilst two significant sponsorship deals were signed with Red Bull and Petronas - now rivals with the energy drinks company owning a team with Petronas sponsoring the Mercedes factory effort.

Frentzen earned the first of 10 podiums as an independent team at Monza with a third-place finish.

The team used Ferrari engines between 1997 and 2005 with success coming only as an established midfield runner. A youthful Kimi Raikkonen was signed for 2001 much to the protest of fellow competitors, given the Finn's lack of experience. The decision to hire Raikkonen also cost Sauber the Red Bull ownership, with the company unhappy with the decision not to hire preferred driver Enrique Bernoldi.

After impressing in his debut season, Raikkonen moved to McLaren as Felipe Massa entered the frame for Sauber. However, there were no stunning results in the final three years of being a true independent, with six third-place finishes in 13 seasons and two front-row starts to show for the team's efforts.

BMW Sauber - 2006-2009

With BMW joining and taking over the team as its factory effort, results began to improve, rapidly. Nick Heidfeld earned a podium in just the second race of 2006 in Malaysia and whilst Jacques Villeneuve struggled in what would be the former champion's final season in F1, replacement Robert Kubica would not.

Between Heidfeld and Kubica, the team would earn fifth in the standings. 2007 would be more famous for Kubica's crash at the Canadian Grand Prix than for any results - the Pole forced to miss the US race due to his injuries. Sebastian Vettel would make his debut for the team, becoming the then-youngest driver to score a point in F1.

The first win for the team came a year later as Kubica, returning to the scene of his horrific accident, came out on top in what remains Sauber's only victory under any banner.

2009 was a disappointment as the team slipped back to sixth in the constructors' standings, with BMW withdrawing from the team.

Sauber independence and Alfa Romeo partnership - 2010-Present

With Sauber returning to independent status, lean times came throughout the decade, despite promising signs from Sergio Perez.

The Mexican earned podiums with superb drives in Italy and Malaysia in particular in 2012, although he arguably should have won in Sepang when chasing down Fernando Alonso.

A partnership with Alfa Romeo came in 2018, with Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc injecting optimism into the team as it recorded its best finish for three years.

The team was rebranded once more to become Alfa Romeo as Antonio Giovinazzi and Raikkonen joined. Despite promising performances, the team would struggle to break into the midfield.

Across three years together, the team slipped from eighth to ninth in the standings and with both drivers leaving - Raikkonen retiring from the sport after 20 years - a new era dawns in 2022 with Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou leading the charge.

Team Boss:
Alessandro Alunni Bravi
Technical chief:
Jan Monchaux
full name:
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN
Cr Alfa Romeo

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