Audi CEO’s comments spark Mick Schumacher links, but could retired driver swoop in?

Audi are set to take over the Sauber Group in 2026.

Markus Duesmann, CEO of Audi, has affirmed that he wants a German driver in the team when the car-maker enters Formula 1 in 2026.

Audi and Porsche, subsidiaries of Volkswagen, have both made it clear that they want to be a part of the pinnacle of motorsport when the new technical regulations come into play.

The engines will change radically, giving manufacturers four years to develop a new engine from scratch.

This is particularly favourable for new manufacturers who, instead of starting behind and having less resources to develop for the new regulations, can spend the next three years putting their energy into one specification, while existing manufacturers are undertaking two projects at once.

READ: Haas open to replacing Mick Schumacher with Daniel Ricciardo or Nico Hulkenberg

This, theoretically, would help offset the experience advantage that the other engine manufacturers would have, which is why the German car makers want to enter in 2026.

Porsche are set to supply Red Bull and AlphaTauri with engines having applied to buy shares in Red Bull Technologies, while Audi are looking to buy a team.

This was initially thought to be McLaren, but it is now widely expected that Sauber will be the subject of a takeover.

That move would see the Sauber Group leave the sport, and the entire operation would move from Switzerland to Germany.

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Audi’s entry will constitute the first time since 2009 that Formula 1 engines would be made in Germany.

Despite the expectations, Deusmann kept his cards close to his chest as to which team Audi intend to purchase.

That team would then inform Audi’s driver line-up, so he also cannot reveal yet which drivers he will be taking on, but he is set on one thing – he wants a German driver racing for the German team.

“Certainly we haven’t decided on a team so we haven’t decided on drivers, we hope we will have a German driver and we hope we will have a German race. That’s all I can say,” he said.

The engine was what needed to be decided upon quickly for Audi, who can afford to wait a little longer before announcing their drivers.

“The long lead is the powertrain so we had to decide on the power unit and that’s what we announced today,” explained Deusmann.

“The decision on the team we will do within this year and depending on the team it will be a different way of engagement from our side, so we haven’t decided how the team will look like, but we will inform you as soon as possible.”

READ: Breaking: Alfa Romeo to end relationship with Sauber

Haas’ Mick Schumacher was pleased to hear that Audi are seeking a German driver for 2026, but a lot can happen in the next three seasons – the 23-year-old is still looking to secure a drive for next year.

“It’s definitely nice but we will see who else will be here by then and whether there are more German drivers,” he told Bild.

Sauber are set to part ways with Alfa Romeo at the end of next season, and that news last week gave a further indication of Audi’s intention to buy them.