Following Wednesday’s announcement that Audi will become the new partner of Sauber from 2026 in Formula 1, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has revealed that the brand has “no desire” to continue in the championship.
Alfa Romeo will remain as the naming sponsor of the Hinwil-based team until the end of next season, when they will then leave the championship and pursue another series.
The partnership has somewhat failed to reach any particular heights, with the team having cemented themselves as a member of the lower midfield sides.
It’s been known for a while that Audi were going to partner with Sauber from 2026, when the new engine regulations are introduced; however, the official announcement hasn’t really bothered the Stellantis CEO.
Tavares explained that the partnership with Sauber has been a “quality agreement” and has seen the car manufacturer become “very profitable”.
“You have to look things objectively,” Tavares told the French sports daily L’Equipe.
“The partnership we had with Sauber was a quality agreement which was very well negotiated by my predecessor. We used it very well through the recovery period of the Alfa Romeo brand in the market.
“Today, the brand is very profitable and in full revival. The conditions are changing and we have no desire at all to put into F1 the enormity of the resources that will be invested by some of our competitors.
“So we withdraw, cleanly and kindly.”
Tavares went on to state that Alfa Romeo’s “job is done” at the pinnacle of motorsport, but that it isn’t the end of seeing the famous carmaker in motorsport.
“We used F1 more with this partnership with Sauber than they used us. From that point of view, everything that happened is rational.
“The job is done. We are going to come back to another discipline which has not yet been decided. Jean-Philippe Imparato, the boss of Alfa Romeo, will submit his options to me.
“But one thing is certain – the brand will be present in motorsport after 2023, when our agreement with Sauber ends. Given the history of the brand, it’s a no-brainer.”
Audi buying 75-percent of Sauber is a real sign of intent by the Volkswagen-owned manufacturer, with it highly likely that it won’t take long for them to become frontrunners in 2026.
Work is already underway on expanding Audi’s Neuburg facility, where the Germans will design and build the team’s 2026 power units.
It will see the team’s main operations move outside of the United Kingdom and into Germany; however, there is no plan in place to see the two merge together before 2026.
The 75-percent stake is supposedly going to be transferred over the next three years in the build-up to the new engine regulations, with the Germans stake set to be increased by 25-percent per year until 2026.
Sauber’s founder, Peter Sauber, is delighted with the partnership and is expecting it to continue long into the future, when he is sadly gone.
“It’s a big day for my former team,” said the 79-year-old.
“I can well imagine that the Audi-Sauber project will outlast me.”