The FIA will be happy to see the announcement from Sauber today, as their 15 year hunt for a ‘new’ manufacturer in Formula One’s over. Of course rumours about Ford and Porsche still abound and the president of the FIA teased the F1 world suggesting another signing is close at hand.
Though in the light of today’s announcement it is likely Mohammed ben Sulayem was pulling the chains of his adversaries in the full knowledge the initial part of the Audi/Sauber tie up was complete.
Sauber F1 announcement
“The Sauber Group is pleased to announce that, as per the plans outlined in October last year, Audi acquired a minority stake in the Sauber Group in January 2023,” read a statement from Sauber.
“This is an important milestone on the way to Audi’s entry in Formula One, scheduled for 2026, for which the Sauber Group will be the German brand’s strategic partner.”
Sauber will of course to be sponsored by Alfa Romeo for the remainder of this season when their current deal with the Italian auto manufacturer ceases.
The Audi buy in is not even F1’s worst kept secret given both parties announced last October that Sauber were set to become the “strategic partner of Audi’s F1 programme” and that Audi “plans to acquire a stake in the Sauber Group”.
Audi F1 stake to be phased
Audi may well be phasing their share acquisition of the Swiss based outfit over the three years and so build a majority stake prior to their full entry in 2026.
The Audi hybrid power unit will be produced at its Neuburg factory currently under construction and the chassis will continue to be designed and produced at the Hindi facility.
Former BMW motorsport boss Adam Baker was appointed by Audi in 2021 as the CEO of Audi Formula Racing GmbH. Andreas Seidl made a shock move at the end of last season from the helm of McLaren to become CEO of the Sauber Group.
F1 boom times attract the German auto manufacturer
Adam Baker explained the motivation for Audi to join Formula One.
“There is no single reason, there are several factors that have aligned to make it extremely attractive for manufacturers, in particular for Audi.”
“F1 is in a transition period with a sustainable concept for the championship. With new rules, which will introduce innovative power units focused on the electrical part, plus sustainable fuels, it is aligned with Audi’s future strategy, directed towards electric mobility.
“Also, F1 has increased in popularity. It is by far the best media and marketing tool in the motorsport world, and one of the best in any industry.
Race wins in 3 years for Audi
Audi have high hopes for their F1 entry, “We want to be competitive in three years,” said Baker.
“It is a realistic goal. We want to compete for wins in the third year.”
Formula One is more attractive to new entrants now than maybe for 50years when customer cars were affordable and in plentiful supply.
The current cost cap will be extended to the power units come 2026 ands new manufacturers will have preferential treatment during the research and development phase of their new hybrid powertrains.
F1 current regulations make new F1 entry attractive
This makes it possible for a new entrant to succeed which only Red Bull Racing has done in over a quarter of a century.
“If you want a fantastic platform to demonstrate your competence and knowledge 24 times a year, this is the best place,” Baker adds.
The spectre of Red Bull racing having no power train following their fall out with Renault means its almost certain the FIA will change the current regulations to ensure that scenario does not happen again.
“We may be required by the FIA to supply engines according to the regulations,” said Baker.
“If that happens, we would be prepared, for sure. But right now, we are not looking for a client team, it’s too early for that. We will focus on our programme as a factory.”
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If I was working the garage that lost by 0.016 after 24 hours I’m aggressively using the air gun on everything during pack down https://t.co/45OkaqV4OR
— Dan – EngineMode11 (@EngineMode11) January 29, 2023