Jacques Villeneuve raises concerns about Audi’s 2026 F1 entry

Jacques Villeneuve raises concerns about Audi's F1 entry

Jacques Villeneuve has voiced his concerns about Audi’s imminent entry into the sport, pointing out the risks and huge obstacles that come with new constructors joining the grid.

Former Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve argued that manufacturers such as Audi might be subject to a quick change of mind and are therefore “very dangerous” for the series as he questioned how effective the team would truly be after making its F1 entry.

There has been a lot of speculation and anticipation regarding Audi’s 2026 Formula 1 debut. However, not everybody is optimistic about the challenges the fresh arrival will face.

Audi plans to enter the Formula 1 grid in the same year the sport welcomes the implementation of new power unit and chassis regulations. Originally, they planned to partner with Sauber and become the Audi works team, but currently, they intend to buy the team entirely before they enter the Formula One championship.

Even so, Sauber is currently preparing for the Audi era as it continues the hunt for their first point of the F1 2024 campaign. However, the team runs the risk of becoming a foundation in dire need of significant improvements for the German brand.

Villeneuve claims that the team’s decline after stepping into the new F1 regulatory period in 2022—while they were still known as Alfa Romeo—will certainly disadvantage Audi when they join the championship given the necessary changes take time to materialize.

“They’re joining with a team that hasn’t been any good for so many years,” Villeneuve said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “And you just can’t invent know-how. It’s something that you build over time.

“You can see it with Williams. They stay kind of good for a while, but you pay the price of pay drivers, of all that, you pay it late. And now the team has been rebuilding, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

“It also takes time. So, it won’t happen overnight.”

Another area of uncertainty Villeneuve is concerned about relates to Audi’s plans for their Formula 1 team as he further questioned the intentions behind the venture.

While there has been talk of a desire to make it to the heights of Formula One, Villeneuve brought up Renault which expresses similar goals for their team Alpine, a team that has yet to score a point in F1 2024. Renault has only secured a single race win since the manufacturer made its return to the grid in 2016.

“And then how are they joining?” Villeneuve questioned. “Are they joining the same way Renault Alpine joined just to be part of F1 and make some image or to actually be racers and try and go out and win, that we don’t know.”

Besides denying rumours that Renault was considering selling the team, Villeneueve has cautioned that manufacturers pose a “very dangerous” risk to Formula 1 with their potential to quit, as opposed to independent teams such as Williams.

“What’s dangerous with constructors when they come in is they can easily in five minutes decide, ‘okay, we’re gone, bye’ and they leave and they don’t care,” he added. “They’re great for the sport, but they’re also very dangerous in that respect.

“Where a team like Williams cannot leave. It exists with and because of F1. What does Williams do if they stop F1? Nothing. So, you’re kind of secure in the knowledge that they will find a way to persevere to get better and because it’s their bread and butter.”

Current Sauber drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu are battling for a chance to remain with the team once their contracts expire at the end of the F1 2024 season.

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