In the last few weeks, former F1 driver Michael Andretti's racing team Andretti Autosport has been rumored to be taking over the Alfa Romeo F1 team. Multiple sources suggest that talks between Andretti Autosport and current Alfa Romeo owners have reached a "very advanced stage".
The two parties have not yet come to an agreement on a final decision. However, reports suggest that approval for the takeover might be out in the coming days.
According to RaceFans, Andretti Autosport is pursuing a deal to buy 80% of shares in Islero Investments, the owner of Sauber Motorsports and Sauber Engineering. The transaction is believed to be worth north of €350 million.
Earlier this year, in March, Michael Andretti formed the Andretti Acquisition Corporation with an aim to raise at least €216 million through an IPO. However, RaceFans reports that the acquisition company has not been involved in the Alfa Romeo discussions.
Michael Andretti's keen interest in adding an F1 team to his racing team's portfolio is widely known around the world of motorsports. The upcoming regulation changes from 2022 added to his motivation to dive back into the sport where he participated as a driver for McLaren during the 1993 season.
The American team is already part of several big racing leagues including IndyCar, IMSA, Formula E, Supercars championship and Extreme E. The IndyCar faction of the team has tasted its fair share of success, winning the Indianapolis 500 five times.
According to sources, Andretti believes it's the best time to get involved in F1 as the new 2022 rules bring a more level playing field for all participating teams. The introduction of a cost cap is intended to have considerable implications on how much teams spend on the development of the cars. It aims to bring the top and bottom-tier teams financially closer.
In the past, Michael Andretti has openly admitted to the media about his interest in joining F1 only if he could acquire a customer team. Should Andretti Autosport buy an 80% share in Sauber, it would effectively put Michael Andretti in charge of the Alfa Romeo F1 team.
The Swiss racing team has declined to comment on a possible change in ownership. At the ongoing Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul, team principal Frederic Vasseur cleared the air, stating that any talks around ownership of the team is outside his purview. He said:
"I can say nothing because, honestly, it’s not in my parameter. I’m the CEO and team principal and these kind of discussions are not with me, it would be with the shareholders. We have so many rumors and so on that you have to ask the question to the shareholders of the company.”
Alfa Romeo F1 team history
Alfa Romeo F1 team, formerly known as Sauber, was majorly owned by Peter Sauber and is the fourth-oldest team in the sport. In 2016, due to financial distress, Peter Sauber sold the team to Islero Investments, which is owned by Swedish investment firm, Longbow Finance.
Later in 2018, the Sauber team announced a multi-year technical and commercial partnership contract with Alfa Romeo, renaming the team to Alfa Romeo F1. Earlier this year, Sauber Motorsports and Alfa Romeo announced an extension of their partnership until 2024.