Toto Wolff reacts to Audi’s ‘cheeky’ dig at Mercedes

Audi are expected to buy the Sauber team in 2026.

Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, was amused when he saw Audi’s jovial dig at Mercedes last week.

Last week, Audi confirmed, after months of speculation, that they will be entering Formula 1 in 2026, and they will be purchasing an existing team to do so.

They therefore will not have to pay the $200 million entry to get into the sport, as the prize fund for the other teams will not be affected.

The expectation is that they will be buying Sauber, who are set to end their relationship with Alfa Romeo at the end of next season.

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The Italian car maker, who won the first-ever championship race in Silverstone through Giuseppe Farina, rekindled its relationship with F1 in 2018 when they came on board with Sauber as a name partner.

Since 2019, they have had exclusive naming rights of the team, but this will end ahead of the 2024 season – it is as yet unknown if they plan to continue their involvement with the pinnacle of motorsport after that.

Audi will be entering the sport as a works team, not just as a business partner, so while the Sauber team was still the driving force behind Alfa Romeo, they are set to disappear from the sport in 2026.

The German side’s production of the cars and power unit will move away from Zurich, and transport itself to a factory near to its headquarters in Ingolstadt.

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The last time Formula 1 engines were made there was in 2009, when Toyota produced their V8 engines in Cologne.

The Japanese team left the sport ahead of the 2010 season, and while Mercedes are a German manufacturer, their engines are made in Brixworth.

“This is the first time in more than a decade that a Formula 1 powertrain will be built in Germany,” Audi amusingly pointed out during their confirmation of their 2026 entry.

Audi’s logo is made up of rings, while the Mercedes badge is the three-pointed star, so they made another quirky comment on social media: “The Rings are the new Stars.”

This tickled Wolff, who encourages the banter.

“I think it’s good that another German OEM is being cheeky on social media, because it’s good for the sport that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” he said.

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“And I see it as a compliment that they said the rings are the new stars, it’s good that they join, it’s good that Porsche comes, once that is confirmed. 

“It shows the strength of Formula 1 and the attraction that it has for the best brands in the world.”

Indeed, Volkswagen’s other subsidiary, Porsche, are expected to supply Red Bull and AlphaTauri with engines in four years’ time.