Self-Interest: Alfa is struggling to reboot as a viable modern automaker. Americans love the idea of an Alfa but sometimes associate it with the movie The Graduate, which is nearly 50 years old, and the vague notion of sporty convertibles. It's mythic, but murky. Still, this is a big name in automotive history. If you asked a random person on the street: Do you want to drive an Alfa Romeo? They'd almost certainly say yes.
F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. By competing in the World Championship and even better – winning – Alfa could legitimately claim it's not a museum piece, but a company on the edge of technology.
And in this case, history is in Alfa's favor. Its drivers, Giuseppe Farina (shown above in 1950) and Juan Manuel Fangio, won the first two Formula One titles in 1950-51. This is a company that's won at LeMans, Mille Miglia, and Targa Florio. Sure, those are some dusty trophies, but the people who would consider buying an Alfa are connoisseurs. They appreciate the bloodlines.
F1 Would Be Better: This doesn't matter to Alfa, but the sport would be more interesting with Alfa on the grid. Can you imagine an Alfa in a pitched fight with a Ferrari (say with Sebastian Vettel as the wheel) at Monza?
F1 could use some new storylines and rivalries. Simply having an Alfa Romeo team on the grid would spice things up. Use engines from Ferrari. That makes the most sense, and Ferrari already sells its units to other teams. Some of them might as well go to another Italian outfit that still probably wouldn't have the same resources as the Scuderia. Enzo Ferrari started out at Alfa, by the way.
It's A Win-Win For Enthusiasts: Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said a lot of curious things lately, but he's spot-on with the notion of Alfa returning to F1. If that happens, it would make Alfa's new models, like the Giulia and 4C, seem sportier. It would remind collectors just how special the old ones are. And it would make Formula One a more compelling sport. Yes, F1 is wildly expensive. But FCA can find money to do Hellcats and hybrid minivans. It should double-down on Alfa's return to F1.