Audi will team up with Sauber for an entry in the Formula 1 World Championship in 2026 and beyond, the automaker announced on Wednesday.
Sauber currently competes in F1 as Alfa Romeo, but Alfa Romeo in August announced the arrangement would end after the 2023 season. Alfa Romeo hasn’t said whether it is quitting F1 altogether, though.
Alfa Romeo made the announcement shortly after Audi announced its intention to compete in F1, leaving little doubt as to Audi’s plans.
Audi’s deal with Sauber will be much more substantial than the title sponsorship and technical partnership arrangement of Alfa Romeo. Sauber will become the official Audi factory team, and run a power unit supplied by Audi. Audi will also buy a stake in Sauber.
The power unit is being developed to meet new sustainability-focused regulations to be introduced in 2026, with the development work taking place at an Audi Sport facility in Neuburg an der Donau, Germany. Overseeing the development is Adam Baker, who has served as an FIA safety director in recent years and previously worked with Cosworth when it produced F1 power units, as well as with Sauber when it competed in F1 with BMW in the 2000s.
Sauber will be responsible for the development and production of Audi’s F1 car, at its base in Hinwil, Switzerland. Sauber will also be responsible for planning and executing the race operations. The team has competed in F1 for decades, though it has managed just one win in 462 starts.
Fellow Volkswagen Group brand Porsche is also keen to enter F1 with its own power unit and possibly a factory team. Porsche was in negotiations with Red Bull Racing, though the talks ended in September without a deal being brokered. The FIA last week confirmed that Porsche is still in talks with other F1 teams.
F1’s power units under the new regulations will stick to the current turbo 1.6-liter V-6 hybrid format, though they will have to run on 100% sustainable fuel and feature increased power from the electric side. Audi plans to start to testing its power unit on a racetrack in 2025.