It seems those rumors about Audi taking over Alfa were true after all. Or are they?
Even though it was one of the worst-kept secrets in the automotive industry, Audi still took the time to officially announce that will enter F1 in 2026 (hurry up, Porsche - we all know you're en route too).
The announcement was still slightly cryptic, however. Audi only announced that it will enter the sport as a power unit (PU) supplier and that it would announce its chassis partner before the end of the year. The new 2026 PU regulations have made it more affordable than ever to enter F1, giving manufacturers like Audi an opportunity to market and enhance cars like the RS e-tron GT via motorsport.
Roughly five hours later, Alfa Romeo announced that its partnership with Sauber Motorsport will come to an end after the 2023 F1 season.
For those unfamiliar with the current Alfa Romeo F1 team setup, allow us to provide an abridged version. The Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen is technically the old Sauber team, but with an Alfa Romeo livery. Sauber and Alfa Romeo have a technical and commercial partnership agreement, which essentially means that Alfa pays to be the title sponsor and, therefore, can place its name and branding on the car. Sauber provides everything else, including the expertise and management structure.
The Alfa Romeo team has been doing particularly well this season, and the Italian brand states this is the main reason why it chose to renew its contract with Sauber for 2023. After that, Alfa is leaving the pinnacle of motorsport.
"Since the economic and industrial turnaround of the brand will be achieved in 2022, Alfa Romeo will now evaluate among the many opportunities on the table and decide which will be the best one to sustain the long-term strategy and the positioning of the Brand," Alfa said in a statement. In non-marketing speak, it means F1 didn't help it sell the Giulia Quadrifoglio, so it will start building EVs instead.
This leaves the door open for Audi, supporting the rumor that makes the most logical sense. First, some context. Audi has been tied to several brands in the past, including McLaren, Aston Martin, and Sauber.
The earliest rumor dates back to November 2021. News reports surfaced that McLaren had been sold to Audi, but the British brand quickly jumped in and confirmed that it was not the case. The Audi and McLaren connection refused to go away until the Aston Martin rumors came along. In early May, Aston Martin chairman Lawrence Stroll confirmed that Audi had approached his company. After that, it was radio silence.
The Sauber rumor dates back to early July, alleging that Audi will take over Sauber in stages, starting with a 25% share in 2023 and eventually 75% in 2026. The timing of Audi and Alfa's press releases is too much of a coincidence to ignore. This looks like it's going to happen, folks.
Now, if only Porsche would make its announcement...