"Formula 1 is passion"

Jean-Philippe Imparato, CEO of Alfa Romeo, speaks with AS after the renewal announcement with Sauber. "This championship was already electric a decade ago."


Jean-Philippe Imparato (France, 54 years old), CEO of Alfa Romeo, meets AS at Silverstone hours after the extension of the sponsorship between the Italian manufacturer and the Sauber team is confirmed. In a context of enormous changes for the automotive industry on the way to electrification, the French leader explains why F1 is such an interesting platform.

— Do you like racing?

— I love them, I love them. Having never made it to F1, I compete in the Nurburgring VLN (an endurance racing championship on the Nordschleife), in selected races for 'gentlemen' drivers. I am in love with motorsport, it is a passion. You cannot work in the automotive industry if you are not connected to the competition.

— How long have you been in F1?

— From a very, very young age. Friend, you cannot count the weekends that I have spent in front of the television. When I saw René Arnoux in Dijon, when I saw Ayrton Senna, when I experienced Prost's career… it was a dream. For me, it is completely natural to support a program as fantastic as this one.

— Perhaps other CEOs, of other manufacturers, think that F1 is too expensive a world. Why is it an interesting platform for Alfa Romeo?

— Because it is consistent with four aspects around our brand. With history, I would not say the same about other manufacturers, I come from another that was related to the resistance (Peugeot). But Alfa Romeo has been linked to F1 from the start. Because it fits with our values, because it is contemporary art. Because Alfa Romeo must invent its own future, if I do not want to lose the fantastic image of Alfa Romeo I must invent the electric touch of the Alfa Romeo. I need all the connections that we have with this world of benefits to feed the product that I will bring to the industry. And also for a touch of passion, Alfa Romeo is not just any company, it has 200 clubs around the world.

— What must F1 be like for Alfa Romeo to maintain interest in the future?

— I know that F1 is a fantastic laboratory for the future. Perhaps many people do not know that F1 was already electric in the past decade (KERS arrived in 2009 and hybrid engines, in 2014). In this hyper-competitive world, it is important to convey that message to the public. These F1 folks did the job eleven years ago and now we have the ability to incorporate it into the cars of the future.

— Someone will say that young people are not so interested in cars anymore…

— Look, my grandson, who is in France right now, has sent me four messages in one morning to send him photos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen, and to see if he can come to Monza. Even in a year and a half of pandemic we have enjoyed this sport. We have to evolve, change, renew many things, yes, but the attraction of F1 is still there.

Photos from as.com

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