Audi comment on signing German driver as they outline 2023 plan

Audi will join the sport as an engine supplier in 2026, with the Germans forming a partnership with Sauber.

Audi Formula 1 boss Adam Baker has revealed that the German manufacturer will introduce a development driver towards the end of 2023, as the company continues to prepare for their 2026 entry.

According to Baker, the development driver will be brought in to focus on the team’s power unit and their overall progression towards 2026, with the announcement of an actual driver selection still being “too far away”.

Audi are joining the sport in 2026 after striking a deal to take a 75-percent stake in the current Sauber side, with the Germans to supply the power unit whilst the team runs under the Audi name.

With that in mind, it’s likely that Audi might have some power over the teams 2024 line-up, with Sauber’s partnership with Alfa Romeo set to conclude at the end of 2023.

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Whilst Audi have expressed their intent on a German driver in 2026, the side aren’t too concerned on the nationality of their development driver, with “performance” being more important.

“It would be attractive, of course, but for us the performance of the drivers has priority,” Baker told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

“We’re not even talking about the drivers for 2024 yet, so it’s very difficult to say how the driver market will develop for 2026.

“[We will] bring a development driver on board in the third quarter [of 2023], who will be particularly important for our power unit development in the driving simulator in Neuburg”.

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Audi are set to have some strong signing power when it does come to approaching drivers, with Sauber having already poached former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.

Seidl will become Sauber’s CEO and will oversee the Hinwil-based team’s collaboration with Audi, with Baker teasing that more hirings are underway.

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“We are already internationally positioned here at the site and the recruiting process is also geared in this way,” Baker explained.

“We are specifically approaching subject matter experts who already have Formula 1 experience.

“This is the first time since 2009 that a power unit has been developed in Germany. Therefore, if we want experienced personnel, we are more likely to find them in the UK, France or Italy.”