Sponsoring Sauber isn't enough.

Alfa Romeo bosses are reportedly keen for the brand to have its own Formula 1 team. The company will return to F1 this year for the first time in over 30 years as a sponsor to Sauber, turning the Swiss team into a de facto Ferrari B-team.

However, despite the team feilding Ferrari protege Charles Leclerc and running engines supplied by the Prancing Horse, Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur has said that Alfa Romeo is keen for the team to be a fully fledged Alfa Romeo factory team as opposed to an understudy to Ferrari.

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'The company’s executives want a fully fledged Alfa Romeo team even though it has to rely on the Ferrari engine for the moment,' Vasseur told French outlet Auto Hebdo. 'The goal is not to have a Ferrari B-team, but an Alfa A-team.'

'There will still be a bridge between the two entities with the driver part, the training part,' he added.

Sauber has been dogged by uncertainty in recent years, and Vasseur feels that the tie up with Alfa Romeo will offer the team an element of stability, but has said that he can't forsee a long-term survival for privateer teams in F1, which could be taken as a hint of Alfa Romeo's ambitions to take over the team entirely further down the line.

'Personally, in the long run, I do not see the survival of a private team in Formula 1,' he said. 'It may have one or two great seasons, such as Force India, but at the slightest hint of a crisis, everything can switch. [With our partnership with] Alfa Romeo, the team will stabilise.'

Curiously, Ferrari began life way back in 1929 as a team that entered amateur drivers in races driving Alfa Romeo cars. It then went on to become Alfa's official factory team when the manufacturer entered financial turmoil, before becoming a team in its own right after World War II.

A full F1 return for Alfa Romeo could follow a potential IndyCar engine supply programme for the firm.

Gallery: Alfa Romeo set to return to F1 with Sauber