It’s been rumored for years (so much so that we’ve made fun of it for years) but according to Motorsport, Audi is set to make an announcement of their investment in the Formula 1 team, Sauber. Currently sporting the Alfa Romeo badge, it is reported that the team have inked a deal with Audi to become a works team ahead of the 2026 season.
After discussions with Andretti racing fell through, Sauber’s owner, Finn Rausing, has agreed to retain a minority position in an Audi investment. The arrangement does bring back memories of a similar arrangement made with BMW several years ago.
The chassis will be constructed in Hinwill HQ while the engine will be made in Germany by Audi of course. There is some speculation as to who might lead this new Audi company created for their Formula 1 program that you can read here.
As for the team, it’s an interesting and logical move although Audi were said to be speaking with McLaren, Williams and Aston Martin. None of which I can imagine wanting to sell majority ownership to Audi.
From my perspective, this news, if released this weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix, would instantly make Sauber a very hot property for a seat as a works team with a brand that is used to winning.
What may currently be a midfield team will launch itself into one of the hottest teams to try and work for as well as drive for. It is a position that one used to think Renault/Alpine would enjoy but they’ve failed to make progress up the grid and perhaps that had something to do with Fernando Alonso’s departure announcement.
Regardless, the key issues for me are, will the team continue to invest heavily in their car and car development knowing that Audi is taking the helm? Have they secured funding from Audi to get them to the 2026 season with an all-new engine? When does Audi take ownership? Now? Next year? Or in 2025? That is a major issue as well. Who will fund the racing from here on given there is an Alfa Romeo badge on the car with a renewed sponsorship deal for 2023.
The 2026 season is four years away so while it may seem the perfect time to be a driver at Sauber, would Valtteri Bottas still be there in four years? My hunch is no. So this leaves lots of jockeying for position for drivers like Pierre Gasly, Zho Guanyu, Mick Schumacher, or a host of F2 junior drivers.
Will Fred Vasseur remain as team boss? I suspect not. I do think most of the employees at Hinwill would stay for chassis development but perhaps the engine department could have a shake up of sorts.
What will Audi’s landing strategy be? Start slow with listed parts and work their way up—given the new cost cap in place—or start from scratch? How will this impact Sauber’s ties with Ferrari—not in 2026, that’s obvious—in the short term? Or will it?
All these questions are the fun part of f1. Trying to figure out how this team will change and who will be driving for it in 2026. Also, what decisions the team make over the next few seasons will all be done through the lens of Audi’s takeover.
The looming Audi deal was part of the reason I though the team may have held back on any big development this year. That’s a hunch but I have no information that would verify that. I could be completely wrong as they have developed but their pace has slowed a bit from the early days of 2022 so I was wondering if their development program was slowed a bit while these discussions transpired.
Anyway, this move will make Sauber instantly hot property and that’s good as the team have been around a long time and they have some great people working for them.
I understand that Porsche and Audi are doing well, but it just seems like a huge amount of money to have both in Formula 1, not to mention their sport car programs. Maybe I’m just too much of a cheapo
It does, doesn’t it? Riding the DTS wave of increased fans and interest in the sport?
So, why is it that not all of these major car manufacturers can all have their own teams instead of buying a piece of another team?
Maybe so they can blame poor performance on other non-automaker partners XD
So if Sauber becomes a works Audi team, how long do they keep getting Ferrari power and Alfa sponsorship money? Do you think Ferrari feel some of their IP may end up with Audi?
Same goes for Honda and Porsche