Audi has confirmed that it has secured a deal with Sauber to have them as a strategic partner beginning the 2026 Formula 1 season.
Audi will also become the primary owner of the Sauber Group as a result of the agreement, making them a works team starting in 2026.
The German manufacturer announced earlier this year that it will enter Formula One as a power unit supplier once the new rules took effect. While Sauber will continue to design and manufacture the car in Hinwil and be in charge of organizing and carrying out race operations, Audi will be building its own engine.
The details of the contract, including the share amount and timing, have not been made public, although it was anticipated that the investment would be made gradually, with the stake rising between now and 2026.
In order to preserve its current title sponsorship with the Italian manufacturer, Sauber will continue to compete as Alfa Romeo until the end of the 2023 season. This arrangement is a marketing agreement rather than a typical works team.
“We are delighted to have gained such an experienced and competent partner for our ambitious Formula 1 project,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board for Technical Development at AUDI AG.
“We already know the Sauber Group with its state-of-the-art facility and experienced team from previous collaborations and are convinced that together we will form a strong team.”
Additionally, the team will continue to use Ferrari engines till the end of 2025.
After being owned by BMW in the middle of the 2000s, this will be Sauber’s second complete works contract.
According to Sauber, the agreement would take the team to unprecedented heights and secure the company’s long-term existence.
Audi has been referred to as the company’s best strategic partner by owner Finn Rausing, who saved the team from financial catastrophe a few years ago and is anticipated to maintain a stake in Sauber.
“It is clear that we share values and a vision, and we look forward to achieving our common goals in a strong and successful partnership,” said Rausing.
Since its financial slump in the mid 2010s, Sauber has been in a period of recovery. It has progressively increased its team and facilities under Fred Vasseur’s direction, and this year it regained the level of upper-midfield competitiveness that Sauber previously experienced.
However, it still has production issues and hasn’t quite managed to stay under F1’s price limit – something it will be able to do under the Audi arrangement.
Vasseur termed it a honor and a big responsibility to be the official works team and said the Audi collaboration will be a critical step for the squad’s long-term goals.
The partnership between Audi AG and Sauber Motorsport is a key step for our team as we continue to make progress towards the front of the grid,” said Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur.
“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.”
Audi’s desire for involvement in Sauber is not yet evident, but it is anticipated that Audi will gradually take the reins of the company.
As of right now, the only news coming out of Audi has been about its engine program, which is under the direction of Audi F1 CEO Adam Baker. It is unclear what that implies in terms of personnel.