It's the first investment of many to come in the next few years.
Audi has reportedly acquired a minority stake in the Sauber Group as the companies prepare for Audi to join F1 in 2026.
This comes after the announcement last October, which saw the two companies come forward as future partners when the new engine regulations take hold, requiring the power units to be 50% ICE and 50% electric. By then, the cars will also have to run on 100% sustainable fuel.
Entry into the sport at a time like that will be an excellent way for Audi to show off its EV technology that will be seen in future e-tron models. It hasn't been announced how much of a minority stake in the company Audi has just taken, but the rumored plan was 25% in 2023, 25% in 2024, and 25% in 2025. In 2026, it will own 75% of the team.
This plan will see Audi eventually become the majority owner, with Finn Rausing, a current owner, still controlling 25% of the team. Despite having all this control, Audi doesn't plan to jump in and change up the entire status quo of the team. The plan is to be a hands-off owner, helping to develop the car and power unit but leaving the team's running to the current Sauber heads.
Starting a new F1 team is too expensive, even for a company like Audi. It doesn't make sense for it to pour a billion dollars into a team it doesn't know how to run, when it can pick one of the teams that need support and buy them out.
Plus, Sauber brings with it a wealth of F1 knowledge and expertise that goes back 30 years, not to mention the group's state-of-the-art wind tunnel and facility.
Audi needs to trust in the process the team has put forward and help build them a great car because every good result the team achieves, every decent finish in the points, podium, or pole position, will translate to more Audi RS e-tron GTs and RS6 Avants sold the following weekday. Not to mention the tie-ins like the F1 video games and the Netflix series Drive To Survive.
With this deal basically set and done, it begs the question if anyone else will join Audi in entering in 2026. Another name floated around is Porsche, but it doesn't seem like the brand has had any luck with the teams it's been courting. It hasn't given up yet, however.
Then there's the absolute dumpster fire that has been Andretti attempting to join F1 with Cadillac. As it stands now, both scenarios aren't promising unless things change with F1. At least we can be excited about Audi for the time being.
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