Audi buys minority stake in Sauber ahead of 2026 entry

An Audi Formula One car display model on August 26, 2022 in Belgium after announcing its participation in the Belgian F1 Grand Prix.

Sem van der Wal | PAN | Getty Images

Audi’s entry into Formula 1 has come closer after the German automaker acquired a minority stake in Sauber.

The purchase comes three months after Sauber confirmed it would become Audi’s strategic partner when the German brand enters Formula 1 in 2026.

The Swiss manufacturer’s current partnership with Alfa Romeo will end after the upcoming season.

“This is an important step on the way to Audi’s entry into Formula 1, 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 engines in 2024 and 2025, before Audi steps in.

Speaking in October, then-Sauber team principal Frédéric Vasseur described the partnership as the “best option for the future”.

“Becoming the official Audi works team is not only an honor and a great responsibility, it is the best option for the future and we are fully convinced that we can help Audi achieve the goals that they’ve set themselves up for their journey in Formula 1,” he said.

On January 14, Andreas Seidl replaced Vasseur as managing director of Sauber after the latter joined Ferrariand oversee Audi’s entry into F1.

This is Sauber’s second full corporate agreement after its merger with BMW in the 2000s, owner Finn Rausing insisting that Audi was the company’s “best strategic partner”.

The aim now will be to get back to at least the upper midfield.

Sauber, which made its Formula 1 debut in 1993, teamed up with Alfa Romeo in 2018 but is still operating on a lower budget than nearly all of its rivals, and has found itself at the back of the grid ever since.

A link with Audi will certainly help their cause, with the automaker developing engines from its German base, and chassis still expected to be developed at Sauber’s Swiss base.

The new generation of F1 engines will feature increased electrical power and 100% sustainable fuels.

“We are delighted to have found such an experienced and capable partner for our ambitious Formula 1 project,” said Audi Board Member Oliver Hoffman, responsible for the F1 program at company level.

In a statement sent to Air Sports, an Audi spokesman said it was a “key step” for the German’s commitment to F1 in 2026.

“As part of the acquisition, Julius Seebach has joined Sauber’s board of directors as an official representative of Audi AG,” the statement added.

Last week it was announced that Alessandro Alunnni Bravi will take up a managerial role under Seidl which will see him take on media duties in the 2023 seasons.

Alunni Bravi, also managing director of the Sauber Group who leads the Swiss-based team, was given the official title of team representative.

Sauber is competing as Alfa Romeo in what is effectively a title sponsorship with the Stellantide– owned brand. This agreement is due to end after the 2023 season with the team set to race as Audis from 2026.

Audi confirmed in August that it would enter Formula 1 in four years as a powertrain supplier and had already been linked to a partnership with McLaren.

Companion volkswagen The Porsche marque, meanwhile, saw a failed deal with Red Bull but still retains an interest in F1.

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