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Formula 1 Saudi Arabian GP

Audi set to complete Sauber F1 takeover

Audi is poised to complete its takeover of the Sauber Formula 1 operation, underlining its commitment to a 2026 entry despite recent managerial changes and board-level hesitation.

Showcar with Audi F1 launch livery

Autosport sister website Motorsport-Total.com understands the manufacturer has completed the next stage of its Sauber takeover, with Audi board member Oliver Hoffmann appointed as a Sauber director above CEO and ex-McLaren F1 team principal Andreas Seidl.

Audi announced its plans to enter a works team in F1 from 2026 at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix in a presentation led by Markus Duesmann and Hoffmann.

But Duesman was replaced as Audi CEO late last year and successor Gernot Dollner is reputedly far more sceptical about an F1 attack.

Hoffmann, the firm’s chief development officer and F1 advocate, was also reportedly set to be sidelined as he took the blame for road car models being postponed and for sluggish sales figures. This increased speculation that Audi was getting cold feet and could even consider selling the nascent F1 project.

However, those rumours have now been largely dispelled. Having taken over 25% of Sauber in early 2023, it is now believed that Audi will complete its transaction with Sauber owner Finn Rausing. While a 75% stake was initially circulated, Bild and Bloomberg report that Audi will realise a 100% takeover.

Ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP, Seidl is said to have informed his employees that Audi's acquisition has now entered the final stage.

Showcar with Audi F1 launch livery

Showcar with Audi F1 launch livery

Photo by: Audi

When Audi announced Sauber as a "strategic partner for Formula 1 entry" in October 2022, the timeline was laid out as: "The expansion of the site in Neuburg in terms of personnel, buildings and technical infrastructure should be largely completed by 2023. The first test drives with the power unit developed for the 2026 regulations in a Formula 1 test car are planned for 2025."

Addressing the early-2024 speculation that Audi was wavering in its F1 commitment, Sauber’s Alessandro Alunni Bravi said: “The project is proceeding according to the timeline and the agreed governance between shareholders.

“The dynamic within the board is not for us to comment on. But what we know is that we have a strong support.

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“Andreas Seidl is working closely with the Audi people to develop our team towards 2026. This is what I think is important.

“Now there is some media speculation. It is normal that it is interesting to understand the status of the Audi project.

“But for us, the status is a good one. We are working hard at every level, together with Audi, both in Hinwil and in Neuberg.

“There is no change, and as we are approaching more and more the target of 2026, we need to work even harder.”

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