Audi is largely anticipated to acquire Sauber when the new technical regulations are implemented for the 2026 season.
The technical department at Audi is said to now have 120 employees, and the manufacturer is reportedly seeking a former Formula 1 driver to lead the squad.
At the beginning of the year, Audi and Porsche were said to be working on a proposal to present to their parent company, Volkswagen, to compete in Formula 1 in 2026. The German auto industry behemoths were rumored to be working together to create a powertrain that they would then provide to Red Bull and McLaren.
Since then, though, Porsche and Red Bull have been in discussions, and Audi plans to buy a team and manage it as their own.
At first, it seemed to be McLaren, but once erroneous information about a successful purchase surfaced last year, that connection was broken, and Audi now seems to be focusing on Sauber.
Since 2018, the Swiss side and Alfa Romeo have been business partners; nevertheless, they do not have any significant influence on the team. Previously, the operation was managed in Hinwil, a small town outside of Zurich, but if Audi acquired the outfit, it would shift to its base in the Ingolstadt area of Germany.
They would also turn into a works team, producing their own chassis and engines, and there are even rumors that they are getting ready to buy Sauber stock by 2023. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the facilities required to make that happen are currently under construction.
“The plan is to buy Sauber,” the report indicates. “Audi has clear ideas and is proceeding with a series of investments, the Neuburg headquarters will see new buildings added in the coming months.”
“Now that the deal is out of the closet, the German manufacturer can also operate freely on the technical market to grow a department that currently has 120 employees.”
Audi has the resources and the support, but what they now need is a captain to guide the ship, and they have apparently selected one.
Cristiano da Matta competed with Toyota in 2003 and 2004 after winning the IndyCar Championship with Newman/Haas in 2002. The Brazilian has developed a strong racing background, and Markus Duesmann may choose to make him the project’s captain.
“For now, a team principal has not been assigned by Audi, but among the candidates is Cristiano da Matta,” the report further indicates. “Audi is not interested in simply being a power unit supplier, it wants to influence the team’s choices.”
“The negotiations are underway and when the agreement is reached, the management framework will probably change.”
At the end of the upcoming season, Sauber and Alfa Romeo are anticipated to part ways.