SAUBER will not be part of the 2019 Formula 1 scene.

In a surprise announcement, the Swiss team, which has been an integral part of the grid for the past 26 years, said it would enter the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship as Alfa Romeo Racing.

Alfa, of course, returned to Formula 1 last season after an absence of more than 30 years, in a multi-year technical and commercial partnership with Sauber.

Now the focus will be on Alfa’s name, despite ownership and management of the Sauber squad remaining unchanged and independent.

Alfa Romeo was the dominant force when the Formula 1 World Championship began in 1950, with the Italian marque claiming an historic 1-2-3 in the first race at Silverstone before securing back-to-back world championships with Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio.

This year, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi will be driving the cars with the charming badge of a serpent ingesting a man.

“After initiating the collaboration with Alfa Romeo in 2018, our team made fantastic progress on the technical, commercial and sporting side,” team principal Frederic Vasseur said.

“This has given a boost of motivation to each team member as the hard work invested has become reflected in our results.

“We aim to continue developing every sector of our team while allowing our passion for racing, technology and design to drive us forward.”

Sauber’s most successful period came under the ownership of BMW, during which it scored its sole F1 victory in 2008.

Last year the Swiss team, which uses Ferrari power units, finished eighth in the constructors’ standings having shown considerable progress over the course of the season.

They have only once failed to score points, and will now look to push on under a new but familiar name in Formula 1.

Aside from a four-year period between 2006 and 2009, when the team was sold to BMW, Sauber has raced as a proud F1 independent.

Even during that time, the German manufacturer opted to keep the Swiss name and race as BMW Sauber, with then boss Mario Theissen saying “it reflects the team’s make-up – run by BMW but with a core of 300 Sauber employees”.

Peter Sauber treated the team like family.

When BMW opted to quit, he bought the team back to save the name and secure the futures of the hundreds of staff who had dedicated their life to the operation.

Their loyalty, through even the most depressing times such as when salaries weren’t being paid, has been unwavering.

Every time they have had their backs against the wall, Sauber has come back fighting.

Alfa Romeo Racing will retain the staff, many of whom have been with Sauber since the beginning, as well the ownership and management.

In other words, the outfit will remain Sauber in all but name.

Some say it’s a sad day, but it’s just another example of the team doing what it needs to do to succeed and fight in Formula 1.

It’s the Peter Sauber way.

CHECKOUT: Alfa Romeo makes return to F1

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Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.