Alfa Romeo is out, and Audi is in.
What has to be one of the worst-kept secrets in automotive history is now a fact. Audi and Sauber have officially announced that they'll be teaming up from the 2026 season onwards.
Audi announced it would join F1 a few months ago, following nearly a year of speculation. At the time, Audi said it was still working on finding a partner. But we found some intel stating that Audi would purchase Sauber Motorsport in segments leading up to 2026. That part is also true, though the timing has yet to be announced.
For now, Audi only states that it plans to acquire a stake in the Sauber Group. If we had to guess, we'd say it would have to be a controlling stake, considering how much time and money Audi is spending on this venture.
For the 2024 and 2025 seasons, Sauber will honor its deal with its current engine supplier, Ferrari.
It's not yet sure under which banner Sauber will race, as its contract with Alfa Romeo will expire at the end of the 2023 season. Audi could make a soft entry, but we doubt it will put its name on a car not running any of its components. As we saw earlier this year in the F1 season, Ferrari doesn't always build the most reliable power units. Audi is entering the sport to show how reliable its EV technology is so that it can sell more RS e-tron GT models.
Perhaps Sauber will simply return as itself for two seasons, with some financial backing from Audi. After all, the development work on Audi's 2026 F1 engine has already started. Audi's corporate cousin, Porsche, is still on the hunt for a partner, though few are left.
"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. To become Audi's official works team is not only an honor 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," said Frederic Vasseur, Sauber Motorsport CEO & Team Principal.
"We are delighted to have gained such an experienced and competent partner for our ambitious Formula 1 project. 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," said Oliver Hoffmann, Audi AG Board Member and Responsible for F1 Program.