Secret Audi deal to buy Sauber complete – Formula One has entered a new regulations era with the ‘ground effect’ car designs for 2021 while at the time freezing the ‘engine’ development for 4 years. The next big change will come for the 2026 season where new engine regulations will have been agreed and the current V6 hybrid power unit will be retired. Of course with new ‘engines’ on the horizon this has sparked interest from non-F1 manufacturers to enter the sport.
As Honda demonstrated joining Formula One after the new V6 hybrids were introduced puts a manufacturer on the back foot, so 2026 is the next opportunity for the sport to broaden the number of different manufacturers supplying power units.
There has been much talk over which of the VW Group brands will join F1 as of yet BMW have not expressed an interest.
As TJ13 reported over the weekend, Honda are set to return as a low key manufacturer though this is for technical reasons so that Red Bull Powertrains can officially become an F1 supplier in 2026.
The new power unit manufacturers in 2026 will be allowed more concessions than this currently supplying ‘engines’ because F1 doesn’t want them to fail and they don’t have the years of data the current PU suppliers have.
It’s not yet clear what the concessions may be, but for example teams using a “Porsche” PU may be allowed an extra unit per season before penalties. More probably the new entrants will be allowed to change their PU designs as they get up to speed with understanding what it takes to produce a successful F1 ‘engine’.
The big question is whether the new PU suppliers will join as a ‘works team’ or as Mercedes did for two decades supply power units only to a number of teams before they bought the Brawn team in 2010 and renamed it Mercedes AMG F1.
Currently all the F1 power unit suppliers have a ‘works team’ as well as suppling customer teams with power units.
There has been a lot of talk over recent months that Audi will be the VAG brand to join F1 for the first time. Porsche did supply engines for McLaren in the 80’s briefly but under the brand name of TAG.
However, it seems Audi will join F1 as a full ‘works’ outfit. The benefit being modern F1 architecture tries to harmonise the car and power unit design when new regulations arise. Mercedes AMG F1 clearly mastered this in 2014 because while they supplied identical power units to customer teams their ‘works’ team car eclipsed all others in its wake.
Respected Swiss F1 journalist Roger Benoit reports in the publication Blick that in fact the deal for Audi to buy Sauber is already complete.
“There should be an official announcement at Red Bull’s home race on July 10 in Spielberg,” reports the veteran Swiss journalist.
Yet the rumours over whether Audi would be a minority shareholder or full owner of the team failed to arrive at a conclusion. However, Benoit claims one unnamed team boss believes Audi will become a full works team owner.
“I don’t understand why Sauber and Audi are still hiding their collaboration,” the team boss tells Benoit.
“Audi secured 25 percent of the shares some time ago. And another 50 percent are to come. This is a really big sum of money,” added the source.
However, Sauber are at present an F1 entrant using the Alfa Romeo brand and may not have fully worked out the exit from that relationship in the future. It would be strange for Audi to own a majority of the Swiss team and they still display the Alfa Romeo brand.
Team boss of Sauber, Frederic Vasseur, recently threw up flack on the issue claiming, “For me, Williams is the favourite, they have very good relations with VW and Germany.”
Audi tried to agree a deal with McLaren but the Bahraini owners refused to sell a majority stake in the team.
Similar questions arise over a possible Audi deal with Williams, who were taken over by Dorilton Capital, though whether the new owners wish to lose control after investing significantly is unknown.
William boss Jost Capito recently told F1-insider.com, ”It’s interesting for any team to enter into a partnership with a car manufacturer. If it is official (that Audi is stepping into F1), then we will also hold talks. However, right now there is no final ‘go’ and the engine rules are not yet definitively established. To my knowledge, the VW Group’s decision is also tied to those new engine rules,”
Yet if Benoit is correct, Audi have taken a step of faith that the new engine regulations will be acceptable and have taken the plunge buying Sauber.
We’ll leave the last word to the eternally young Fernando Alonso who cryptically commented during the 2022 Canadian GP the could be driving for a German brand in 2026.
Alonso will be 45 years of age then…
Vettel involved in a surpising deal with Sauber
Vettel involved in a big revolution with Audi set to enter Formula One from the 2026 season, a team principal has explained that he believes he knows which F1 team the German brand will partner with. A collaboration that could involve a certain Sebastian Vettel, who is driving for Aston Martin this year.
With Audi set to enter Formula One from the 2026 season, a team principal has explained that he believes he knows which team the German brand will……..READ MORE ON THIS STORY