If there's any Formula 1 team that's showing the feel-good factor after last season, it's Sauber. The Swiss team has had an incredible revival. After two dismal campaigns in 2016 and 2017, 2018 was a very welcome return to form, thanks in part to Charles Leclerc's excellent rookie season.
It's all changed on the drivers' front, with Kimi Raikkonen rejoining the Swiss team after 18 years, while Antonio Giovinazzi partners him in the latter's first full season in F1.
However, it's not just the new drivers who signal a new era, the team's name has changed too. After altering it to include Alfa Romeo in 2018, 2019 sees them re-branded to Alfa Romeo Racing, with no mention of Sauber at all.
Sauber's factory is still going to be in Hinwil, Switzerland, and the staff at the team aren't under threat. This is a change in name and funding rather than a brand new team, like when Lotus changed to Renault in 2016.
How will this affect the team?
There's no way to definitively say how this will affect the team, but if you look back a decade ago, the omens are good. Between 2006 and 2009 the Hinwil outfit competed as BMW Sauber, a period which brought the team's only win thanks to Robert Kubica.
Alfa Romeo has a rich history in Formula 1 as well, winning both of the inaugural F1 championships in 1950 and '51. It should also be noted that Alfa Romeo is a part of the Fiat group, the same umbrella that Ferrari falls under too.
We can expect more funding to be pumped into Alfa Romeo Racing than what Sauber had at their disposal, meaning that we could see the newly re-branded team challenge the top 3 teams and Renault in the next few seasons.
Things seem positive, and Team Principle Frederic Vasseur certainly agrees, stating the following in a recent interview:
"It is a pleasure to announce that we will enter the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship with the team name 'Alfa Romeo Racing'. This has given a boost of motivation to each team member, be that track-side or at the headquarter in Switzerland, as the hard work invested has become reflected in our results."
Honestly, this seems like the best thing that could've happened for the team. With over a month until the season kickoff in Australia, there's still time to develop the car further. Sauber could've hit the glass ceiling with their performance in 2018; we don't know for sure but this takeover certainly won't hurt their chances.
How do you think Alfa Romeo Racing will get on in 2019? Let us know in the comments below!Published 01 Feb 2019, 16:38 IST