Audi take major step towards Formula 1 entry

Audi will have a 75-percent majority share in Sauber come 2026, when the Germans join the F1 grid as the Hinwil-based outfit's strategic partner.

The countdown to Audi joining the Formula 1 grid has well and truly gotten underway, with Sauber having officially announced that the German manufacturer have acquired their first stake in the Swiss company, ahead of their 2026 merge.

Whilst the official size of the minority stake is currently unspecified, it has been rumoured that Audi will acquire a 25-percent stake in the team each year, for the next three years, with the Volkswagen-owned company to have a 75-percent stake in the team come their inaugural race at the pinnacle of motorsport.

Once the merge is completed come 2026, Audi will supply the power units whilst the chassis will continue to be designed and developed at Sauber’s base in Hinwil, Switzerland.

Sauber are “pleased” to be able to make their announcement and have hailed the moment as an “important milestone” in Audi’s journey to Formula 1.

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Sauber’s official statement read: “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. 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.”

Whilst Hinwil will be an incredibly important base for Audi’s F1 entry, the Germans are currently building a completely separate factory in Neuberg, Germany, where the manufacturer will develop its power units.

Until 2026, Sauber will continue to use Ferrari power units and will actually race under their own name in 2024 and 2025, with their partnership with Alfa Romeo set to conclude at the end of the upcoming season.

With Audi’s entry still being three years away, nothing has been said yet as to who might drive for the Germans entry; however, it is believed that a German driver is high on Audi’s wish list, with Mick Schumacher perhaps being the most likely option.

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In charge of overseeing the Hinwil-based team’s transition into an Audi works side is, of course, former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, who was hired by Sauber to replace Frederic Vasseur as the Sauber Group’s CEO.

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Seidl has previously worked with the Volkswagen Group before when playing a pivotal role in Porsche’s pursuit to win the Le Mans 24 Hours and the World Endurance Championship, making him the perfect person to oversee the transition.

“Andreas Seidl has extensive experience in leadership roles across motorsport programs on both the manufacturer and Formula 1 team side,” said Audi’s chief technical officer, Oliver Hoffmann.

“His track record in motorsport is impressive.”