Formula 1: Audi buys minority stake in Sauber ahead of 2026 F1 entry
Audi is excepted to make its long-awaited entry into Formula 1 in 2026 and will be Sauber’s strategic partner; the Swiss constructor’s current deal with Alfa Romeo is up at the end of the 2023 season, and it will use Ferrari power units in 2024 and 2025.
By Amar Mehta
Last Updated: 30/01/23 9:25am
Audi’s entry into Formula 1 has moved a step closer after the German car manufacturer acquired a minority stake in Sauber.
The purchase comes three months after Sauber confirmed they would become Audi’s strategic partner when the German marque enters Formula 1 in 2026.
The Swiss constructor’s current partnership with Alfa Romeo will end after the coming season.
“This is an important milestone on the way to Audi’s entry in Formula One, scheduled for 2026, for which the Sauber Group will be the German brand’s strategic partner,” Sauber said in a statement.
Sauber will run with Ferrari power units in 2024 and 2025, before Audi steps in.
Speaking in October, then-Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur described the partnership as the “best option for the future”.
“To become Audi’s official works team is not only an honour and a great responsibility, it’s the best option for the future and we are fully confident we can help Audi achieve the objectives they have set for their journey in Formula 1,” he said.
On January 14, Andreas Seidl replaced Vasseur as Sauber’s chief executive after the latter joined Ferrari, and will oversee Audi’s entry into F1.
It is Sauber’s second full works agreement after their link-up with BMW in the 2000s, with owner Finn Rausing insisting Audi were the “best strategic partner” for the company.
The goal now will be to return to at least the upper midfield.
Sauber, who first debuted in Formula 1 in 1993, partnered with Alfa Romeo in 2018 but have still been operating at a smaller budget than nearly all of their rivals, and have been towards the back of the grid since.
Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz gave his reasons why he thinks Fred Vasseur is a good team principal appointment for Ferrari.
A link-up with Audi will certainly help their cause, with the carmaker developing engines from their German base, and the chassis still expected to be developed at Sauber’s Switzerland base.
The new generation of F1 engines will feature increased electrical power and 100 per cent sustainable fuels.
“We are delighted to have gained such an experienced and competent partner for our ambitious Formula 1 project,” said Audi board member Oliver Hoffman, who is responsible for the F1 programme at corporate level.
Craig Slater gives a full update on January’s team principal movements of Fred Vasseur, Andreas Seidl and Andrea Stella.
Audi confirmed in August they would be entering Formula 1 in four years as a power unit supplier and had been previously linked with a partnership with McLaren.
Fellow Volkswagen brand Porsche, meanwhile, saw a deal fall through with Red Bull but still retain an F1 interest.