THE MOTORSPORT LAP
Haas could get F1 sponsor leg-up
Maserati looks set to return to premier circuit while Toyota Gazoo Racing names Dakar 2018 team
We learnt last week of Alfa Romeo returning to Formula One in 2018 under the auspices of the Sauber F1 Team. Our international correspondent, Michael Taylor, also reported that premium Italian automobile manufacturer Maserati could be making a return to F1 after nearly 60 years.
Taylor says sources insist Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Ferrari and Maserati’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is preparing to send the Modena brand back to F1 after an almost six-decade hiatus.
The deal will give Haas, the sport’s only US team, its first major sponsor after two self-funded years. Like the recent announcement of Alfa Romeo’s sponsorship of perennial back-marker Sauber, it would see Maserati paying Ferrari €20m a season to paint its trident on engine covers, via Haas.
The Maserati-Haas outfit will be the fourth "Italian" team on the F1 grid, though only Toro Rosso and Ferrari will actually be based in the country.
The Maserati brand has a glorious F1 history, albeit a long time ago, with the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio winning the last of its two driver’s championships in a 250F in 1957. It has nine grands prix wins to its credit, all in the postwar 250F model that was still an F1 force in private hands into 1960, and helped Maria Teresa de Filippis become the first woman to race in an F1 grand prix, in 1958.
The 250F was also entered into grands prix by private teams after the demise of the factory team and saw action in the hands of world champions such as Jack Brabham, Phil Hill and Mike Hawthorn, with other big-name racers Carroll Shelby, Masten Gregory, Roy Salvadori and Jo Bonnier. Its last official efforts in F1 were as an engine supplier to the British Cooper team, whose V12-powered Cooper-Maserati T81 won the Mexican and South African Grands Prix with John Surtees and Pedro Rodriguez in 1966 and 1967 respectively.
At the time of writing, nothing has officially come from Maserati regarding the move so we hope an announcement will be made in due course.
Meanwhile, earlier this week Toyota Gazoo Racing SA announced the team destined for Dakar 2018. Former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers will again partner with German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz. The pair last won the world’s most gruelling automotive race in 2009, but have gone on to attain four podium finishes for Toyota. The duo will be joined in the line-up by Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah and French navigator Mathieu Baumel.