Audi are certainly expecting a lot from their “strategic” partnership with Sauber in Formula 1, with Audi managing director Tom Baker having revealed that the German manufacturer are targeting victories “after three years”.
Apart from Red Bull Powertrains, Audi are the only new power unit supplier to have been confirmed for 2026, when the new engine regulations are introduced.
The Volkswagen-owned company are wanting to hit the ground running in F1, with the side set to run a full Audi works team from 2026, after acquiring a 75-percent stake in the Hinwil-based team’s F1 outfit.
Audi’s relationship with Sauber will see the Germans supply the power units, whilst the Swiss side will supply the chassis – a promising combination.
With the duo having three full years to best prepare for the start of their collaboration, Baker has admitted that Audi could be “fighting at the front straight away”, if they play their cards right.
“We have committed for the period 2026 to 2030. We want to compete for victories after three years,” Baker told DPA.
“The new technical [engine] regulations create opportunities for newcomers to be competitive quickly. Moreover, with the budget cap, everyone has the same opportunities and all face the same challenge.
“If you get your act together, there is even the possibility that you could be fighting at the front straight away in 2026.”
Audi have already shown their intent of being a threat in the sport, with Sauber having poached former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, who has returned the the Hinwil-based side as CEO of the Sauber Group.
Seidl previously worked for Sauber whilst they were partnered with another German manufacturer, BMW.
The pair were partners from 2006-2009, with Seidl having spent four years with the team.
Signing Seidl will result in a wise head being in charge of the operation, with Baker knowing that the Audi F1 side will face plenty of challenges, with the “pressure” already being felt.
“We are already feeling the pressure from outside, but we expected that,” Baker added.
“We are aware of the challenges ahead, but we already have a clear idea of what it will take to be successful in 2026.
“That certainly makes the pressure from within our own ranks all the more intense.”