|Frederic Vasseur expects Alfa Romeo to be the 5th fastest team in 2019|
(GMM) Sauber will reportedly enjoy a big budget boost in 2019.
The Hinwil based team has a new name for the new season — Alfa Romeo.
"Alfa Romeo Racing, operated by Sauber Motorsport. New name, Same game!" the team announced on Twitter.
"It's a pity that the legendary Sauber name is going," former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov told Russia's Championat.
However, it is a firm indication of an ever closer relationship with Ferrari. Both Alfa Romeo and Ferrari are owned by Fiat Chrysler.
BudgetBookGP claims the former EUR 50 million Alfa sponsorship will be doubled for 2019 and "allow the team to target 250 million euros of budget per season".
It could mean the Swiss-based team starts to compete with the Renault and McLaren budgets.
Sauber finished eighth out of the ten teams last year, but the outfit actually made big progress in 2018.
"I think it's a long process — step by step," said team boss Frederic Vasseur.
"We signed a good deal with Ferrari for engines and then Alfa Romeo joined and we are much more attractive for other sponsors and for recruitment also."
Vasseur may also be referring to the recruitment of 2007 world champion and long-time Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen for 2019.
"It will be a reference, which is important for the engineers just to be focused on the car," said the Frenchman.
"I think we are still a young team, because we are also turning the company around a lot, and to have this kind of leader will be very helpful," he added.
As for a target for 2019, Vasseur said Alfa Romeo is not able to compete with the budgets of the top three teams or even Renault.
"But then it's very open," he said. "From my point of view the real race is more in the second part of the field, and we can expect to be at the top of that field."