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FCA Boss Sergio Marchionne Wants Alfa Romeo Back in F1

Says Alfa team could groom Italian drivers for Ferrari

FCA and Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne has once again expressed his desire to see Alfa Romeo return to Formula 1 racing.

That said, he doesn't envision an Alfa Romeo team dominating the top spots from the get-go (if ever). Instead, Marchionne says Alfa's presence in F1 could serve as an opportunity to develop rookie Italian drivers, perhaps as a stepping stone before progressing to other teams like Scuderia Ferrari.

"Alfa Romeo in F1 could become a fine breeding ground for young Italian drivers… they are struggling to find room. Alfa Romeo, more than our customer teams, could offer them that space," Marchionne recently told Italian journalists.

Ferrari recently inked a deal with Antonio Giovinazzi, though the 23-year-old Italian will be a third driver behind veterans Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. According to motorsport.com, the 2011 season was the last time an Italian driver started an F1 race. Ferrari itself hasn't had an Italian driver since 2009 when Giancarlo Fisichella served as backup to Felipe Massa.

A year ago Reuters reported that Marchionne strongly suggested Alfa should return to F1. "It's incredible how the Alfa marque remains in people's hearts," Marchionne said. "For that very reason we are thinking about bringing it back, as our competitor."

Marchionne, however, tempered his F1 excitement with financial reality. He says Alfa's road cars still take priority, especially with the recent launch of the Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover.

"We have to wait for a bit," he said. "But I hope to be able to bring it back."