Audi will be paying $450 million for a 75% share of Alfa's F1 team.
Several rumors are doing the rounds up and down the F1 pit lane at the moment. After all, it is the silly season, and soon we'll know who will be racing in 2023 and who won't.
One of the biggest F1 stories of the year is Audi and Porsche returning to Formula 1 in 2026. The most significant regulatory change in decades will come into effect in 2026, leaving the door open for interested manufacturers to join the sport. And it seems Audi has now found a new home...
There are too many regulation changes to delve into right now, but the abridged version is that F1 will be much cheaper due to certain expensive power unit parts being removed from the engine. The 2026 cars will use a more basic hybrid V6 engine with a powerful battery pack, and the ICE component will run on 100% biofuel.
Brands with EV and biofuel products are interested because this is a billion-dollar marketing opportunity.
Since Audi and Porsche (both part of the VAG Group) announced their return to the sport, there have been various rumors concerning how Audi could get involved. Porsche has been tied to Red Bull from the start, and an official announcement is expected to be made this weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix.
After kicking the wheels at McLaren and having some meetings with Aston Martin, it now seems Audi will be buying Sauber. And yes, Sauber is still around, in case you happen to be a newer F1 fan (No judgment if you are, and welcome to the club).
Sauber is better known as the Alfa Romeo team. In 2019 Sauber announced that it would be racing under the Alfa Romeo banner. Even though the livery changed, everything else remained the same.
The rumor comes courtesy of Joe Saward, one of the most respected F1 journalists in the world. Saward has been writing about F1 since 1988 and has attended every single Grand Prix since.
He has close ties to multiple insiders who speak openly and candidly with him. In his recent blog, he claims that Audi has agreed to acquire Sauber. He doesn't cite a source, most likely because whoever it was asked to remain anonymous.
"The whisper is that the deal is worth around $450 million and will see Audi acquiring 75 percent of the shares in the team, valuing it at $600 million. The sale is conditional on the technical rules of F1 for 2026 being confirmed by the FIA but will be a phased deal over three years with Audi taking control of a first 25 percent of the shares in 2023, another 25 percent in 2024 and a third 25 percent in 2025," wrote Saward.
The final 25% will be retained by Finn Rausing, a current Sauber investor.
The Alfa Romeo team will remain known as such until the end of 2025, while Audi will be phased in slowly. Ferrari will still provide powertrains until the new regulations come into play.
Following that, it will be rebranded as a fully-fledged Audi team with engines built by Audi Sport GmbH in Germany. While Audi intends to go fully electric, it can still use F1 as a platform to flog its products. The 2026 cars will require powerful battery packs, so there will at least be some connection between the F1 car and an Audi RS e-tron GT.
Porsche's deal with Red Bull will likely be different. We don't see the energy drink dropping its livery anytime soon, though we've heard that Porsche will build its power units. This also works well from a marketing perspective, given Porsche's leading research into sustainable biofuels.