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Audi brand will not be part of new Sauber F1 identity from 2024

Sauber says that Audi will have no presence on its rebranded Formula 1 car next year, but insists there is no watering down of its works plans for 2026.

The new Audi Sport F1 concept car

The new Audi Sport F1 concept car

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Hinwil-based squad announced last year that it would become the Audi works team in 2026 when new engine regulations come into play.

With its current title sponsorship with Alfa Romeo coming to an end this year, it will have a new naming partner and is expected to change to the Sauber brand for 2024 as it continues its long-term project.

But while the blank sheet for next year could give it an opportunity to give Audi some profile, Sauber has made clear that the choice has been made for the German manufacturer to not have any public presence until 2026.

Asked by Autosport about the possibility of the Audi name or logo appearing before its official entry, team principal Alessandro Alunni Bravi said: "No. Audi will enter in 2026.

"Commercially speaking, it is important to have a big bang in 2026, not to dilute the Audi involvement with the team. So, we will continue as Sauber, based on the heritage of the group."

As reported by Autosport last week, Sauber is expected to announce a new title sponsor and its official team name next month, as it transitions away from its partnership with Alfa Romeo.

Alunni Bravi added: "We already planned the next step. And of course, we signed that title partner already at the beginning of 2022 for the next two seasons.

"The FIA will publish the entry list of 2024 around the 10th of December, and we will also communicate at that time, not before, who will be the team name for the next two seasons and the title partners for our team.

"We have everything clear for the next two seasons. And I want to reiterate they are not two transition years. They are two years that are part of a long-term project that needs to bring the team to the next level."

The new Audi Sport F1 concept car

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The new Audi Sport F1 concept car

Audi commitment

Sauber's efforts with Audi have been surrounded by speculation that the German manufacturer could be having second thoughts over its F1 entry in 2026.

These rumours have been triggered by the departure of former Audi CEO Markus Duesmann, who approved the original F1 plan, and the fact his successor Gernot Dollner has said nothing about the F1 project and his thoughts on it going forward.

But while the lack of communication has triggered doubts about Audi's commitment, and even prompted wild rumours that Toyota could take the project over, Sauber has said the situation behind the scenes is very clear.

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Alunni Bravi said that meetings he has had with Audi at its headquarters in the past few days show everything is progressing as originally planned.

"Between Vegas and Abu Dhabi, I've been in Ingolstadt," said Alunni Bravi. "So, I think that there is a commitment.

"I've seen people that are fully committed, and they are working really hard. We know that the challenge is big, but there is a full commitment."

Alunni Bravi explained that the Audi decision to enter F1 was not just down to one individual, and had been approved at multiple senior levels within the company.

"The commitment of Audi was really strong from the very beginning," he said. "The project, the F1 project, has been approved by the Audi management board, has been confirmed by the Supervisory Board of Audi and has been then confirmed by the Supervisory Board of VW.

"So, it is a commitment at any level within the Audi/VW Group.

"The change of the CEO doesn't change this approach, because it was not a decision of a single individual or the board, it was a decision of the group."

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