Audi-Sauber: upcoming announcement?

The Volkswagen Group’s entry into Formula 1 via the Porsche and Audi brands has been no longer a secret for several months. But the question of when those arrivals will be made official is still relevant as the discipline prepares for its comeback after the summer break and the 2026 engine regulations have been validated by the World Motor Sport Council.

The most progressive file always seemed to be that of Porsche, whose future alliance with Red Bull Racing is no longer in question. But the prolongation of discussions about the next generation of power plants has forced the two entities to postpone the celebration of this marriage several times. However, administrative documents were responsible, whether in Morocco or Germany, to show that we were busy behind the scenes.

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Conversely, Audi’s candidacy seemed so far behind that Herbert Diess, CEO of VW, pointed out last May when his group’s board of directors gave the green light in principle for entering Formula 1.

The Audi project had started with soundings at Red Bull, but big boss Dietrich Mateschitz and special adviser Helmut Marko gave preference to Porsche from the start. Negotiations between Audi boss Markus Duesmann and McLaren were unsuccessful. After failing to keep options from Williams and Aston Martin, the brand with the rings eventually targeted Sauber (the company managing Alfa Romeo’s commitment).

And the file seems to have speeded up significantly since then. According to information from the sister publication of Motorsport.comMotorsport-Total.com, it indeed appears that an official announcement of the deal between Audi and Sauber could be, and could possibly take place this weekend on the fringes of the Belgian Grand Prix.

At the end of 2021, Sauber owner Finn Rausing received a purchase offer from Michael Andretti for 350 million euros. Rausing would then have tried to ensure the existence of the Sauber Group at its headquarters in Hinwil, Switzerland, and to secure jobs, while asking Andretti 250 million euros more as a guarantee of its seriousness; which he refused.

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According to our information, Audi would be willing to pay more than Andretti for a smaller stake in the stake: specifically, this would allow Rausing to remain a minority shareholder. The plan would then be to turn Sauber into a real factory structure, similar to what was done at BMW between 2006 and 2009, under the official name “BMW Sauber”. It should also be noted that Markus Duesmann, one of the great architects of Audi’s arrival in Formula 1, held the position of head of development for the German-Swiss unit between 2007 and 2009.

The project would thus involve building the chassis in Hinwill, which has one of the most modern wind tunnels in the paddock, while the drive unit would be manufactured and developed on the Neuburg side in Germany. This would be a clear counterpoint to Porsche, which would be primarily based in England and would rely, among other things, on the Red Bull Powertrains facilities near Milton Keynes.

Also according to our information, the company created to oversee Audi’s F1 project may have Adam Baker, a former BMW employee (where he met Duesmann), as general manager. Another obvious candidate seems to be Audi’s current competition boss, Julius Seebach, who is far more experienced through his role as CEO of Audi Sport. However, the latter in particular is to be replaced in his current position in order to fill a new position within the brand’s development department.

With Christian Nimmervoll and Sven Haidinger

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