Sauber has announced the team will be rebranded as the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team from 2018 after agreeing a deal with parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, marking the Italian marque’s return to the sport after 30 years away.

Reports recently emerged of Sauber strengthening its ties to the Ferrari parent company having ditched its mid-season deal with Honda for 2018 and the Swiss team has confirmed a multi-year technical and commercial deal with Alfa Romeo which will also take the title sponsor role.

The team will continue to run Ferrari power units next season but the 2018 F1 car will be Alfa Romeo badged as part of the partnership between the Italian group and Sauber.

Alfa Romeo last competed in Formula 1 back in 1988 having debuted in the sport in 1950 and has acted both as a constructor and engine supplier. Alfa Romeo won the inaugural F1 World Drivers’ Championship with Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio. The Italian brand is controlled under the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Group alongside sister marques Ferrari, Chrysler and Fiat.

CEO of the FCA Group Sergio Marchionne has heralded the move to redefine the Alfa Romeo brand while strengthening its ties to Sauber which is speculated to act as a ‘Ferrari B’ team in the same style as Red Bull and Toro Rosso to aid its Ferrari Driver Academy programme, with Charles Leclerc and Antonio Gionvinazzi strong favourite for 2018 F1 drives at the Swiss team.

“This agreement with the Sauber F1 Team is a significant step in the reshaping of the Alfa Romeo brand, which will return to Formula 1 after an absence of more than 30 years,” Marchionne. “A storied marque that has helped make the history of this sport, Alfa Romeo will join other major automakers that participate in Formula 1.

“The brand itself will also benefit from the sharing of technology and strategic know-how with a partner of the Sauber F1 Team’s undisputed experience. The Alfa Romeo engineers and technicians, who have already demonstrated their capabilities with the newly-launched models, Giulia and Stelvio, will have the opportunity to make that experience available to the Sauber F1 Team.

“At the same time, Alfa Romeo fans will once again have the opportunity to support an automaker that is determined to begin writing an exciting new chapter in its unique, legendary sporting history.”

Pascal Picci, Chairman of Sauber Holding AG, is thrilled to welcome the new agreement with Alfa Romeo and sees it as an ideal chance to the F1 team to climb the pecking order after a difficult few seasons.

Sauber was sold to new Swedish investors in July 2016 but has struggled financially, opting to take cut-price year old Ferrari engines this year which made the team uncompetitive and finished last in the F1 World Constructors’ championship for the first time in its history.

“We are very pleased to welcome Alfa Romeo to the Sauber F1 Team,” Picci said. “Alfa Romeo has a long history of success in Grand Prix racing, and we are very proud that this internationally renowned company has chosen to work with us for its return to the pinnacle of motorsport.

“Working closely with a car manufacturer is a great opportunity for the Sauber Group to further develop its technology and engineering projects. We are confident that together we can bring the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team great success, and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”