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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Sauber: Audi's 2026 focus not affecting current F1 team's struggles

The Sauber team is struggling for performance while its new owner Audi is preparing its 2026 Formula 1 works entry.

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Sauber has refuted that its current lack of performance is related to its new owner Audi focusing most of its efforts on Formula 1's 2026 regulations.

The team is the only one yet to score points after nine races, being hamstrung by pitstop and other reliability issues at the start of the year and, just when it started getting its pitstops under control, the Swiss squad has now fallen back in the midfield's development race with what has been the slowest car on the grid in recent races.

The Hinwil-based squad's slump comes against the backdrop of new majority owner Audi pumping in resources to prepare for its official entry in 2026, which includes a bespoke power unit built in Germany.

Audi's focus on starting 2026 on the front foot, which takes precedence over getting results before it takes over the branding of the team, is not lost on Bottas. The Finn is an outside contender to stay at the team, but only if it can't secure its main target Carlos Sainz as Nico Hulkenberg's team-mate.

But if he and team-mate Zhou Guanyu do move on, they are currently stuck in limbo while team CEO Andreas Seidl is setting up the organisation for long-term success.

"Obviously, there have been quite a few things going on in the team for a better future," Bottas said.

"Sometimes you might take a step back to take two steps forward, so that's part of the game, but I hope we're in better shape. That's all I can say.

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

"Fundamentally, there's nothing big wrong, we just need to keep adding performance because many teams around us have made jumps. We've made jumps, but not big enough. But like I said, I think it's more for the future that the big goals are."

But Alessandro Alunni Bravi, the board member who is the team's acting representative, claims the team's short-term performance and long-term ambitions are not incompatible.

"I think it's a mistake to mix both things," he said. "I don't think that the preparation for the Audi works team is affecting the current two seasons, and it must not.

"I think that we have weaknesses that we are trying to address. Andreas has been working from last January on improving the team in this transformation process. But the transformation process starts from the improvement of the current structure and in finding the right people to reinforce our technical teams in every area.

"I don't think that there are two separate tasks to be done, one for the works team and one for the current team. There are not two separate teams. There is one team that needs to be the foundation for the works team."

He added that the team's recent plight is partly why Audi has accelerated its full takeover of Sauber, becoming a 100% shareholder in March.

"We are not where we should be, also in terms of recruitment and investment," he explained. "And this is why Audi has decided in March to go for a full takeover of the Sauber Group in order to push for the investment that are necessary to make the step towards the works team.

"We know exactly where is the light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still in the tunnel."

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