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Sauber: No change to Audi’s 2026 F1 commitment

Sauber's Alessandro Alunni Bravi has denied suggestions Audi’s commitment to a Formula 1 entry in 2026 is under threat due to management changes at the company.

The new Audi Sport F1 concept car

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Audi’s acquisition of Sauber was officially announced in August 2022, and since then the Swiss team has been ramping up its infrastructure and headcount under CEO Andreas Seidl.

Meanwhile Audi has been developing its power unit at a dedicated new F1 facility at its Neuberg base.

However, last year key F1 advocate CEO Markus Duesmann left the company. His successor Gernot Dollner is believed to be lukewarm on the project, with reports in Germany even suggesting that he would be willing to sell the team on, and abandon the planned F1 entry.

Last week there were indications that Audi chief development officer Oliver Hoffmann is set to be moved into an F1 role, potentially placing him between Seidl and the company’s top management.

Alunni Bravi has insisted everything is still going to plan and any management changes within Audi have no impact.

“There is a strong commitment from the Audi Group at all levels,” he told Autosport.

“We always said that the decision to enter into F1 was not based on a decision of single individuals, but was based on the decision of the management board of Audi.

“And it's then been confirmed by the advisory board of Audi and the supervisory board of VW Group. So the commitment is there.”

Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber C44

Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Erik Junius

Paddock speculation has suggested that the investment required to ramp up the team, which is tied to the timetable that sees Sauber shares pass to Audi in stages, has not been sufficient to build the team up at the pace Seidl had envisaged.

“The project is proceeding according to the timeline, and the agreed governance between shareholders,” said Alunni Bravi.

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

“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.”

Alunni Bravi also reaffirmed the development of the Hinwil infrastructure is proceeding on schedule and the team will be able to reach the required level.

“I've seen that in the press there are comments about whether or not Sauber in terms of structure is adequate to become the solid foundation for a works team,” he said.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative, Stake F1 Team at the Press Conference

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative, Stake F1 Team at the Press Conference

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“What I can say is when Audi decided to acquire the Sauber Group, there was a proper due diligence done at every level, including our facilities and the technology.

“We know that in order to become competitive for a top position we need to improve our facilities, to expand our facilities, our headcount, to invest in technology as all the teams are doing.

“We have seen in the last four years teams build new wind tunnels, in order to have a state-of-the-art facilities. They have all invested in technology and in people. We are doing the same.

“According to the governance, we will have the resources to reach our target. F1 is a technology sport.

“So the journey is not a one-year journey. It's a process that we started under the leadership of Andreas, and we are working with the support of our shareholders.

“So there is and there will be everything to do to do a good job, according to the timing that is necessary to develop a works team from an independent team. It's a big step, of course.”

Alunni Bravi is adamant that any speculation doesn’t create a distraction as the team talks to potential drivers and continues to recruit key technical staff.

“I don't think there is distraction because with all the parties that we are speaking with, drivers and engineers, the project is clear,” he said.

Andreas Seidl, CEO, Sauber Motorsport, Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Andreas Seidl, CEO, Sauber Motorsport, Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“They know exactly the timeline of our project, they know exactly who is the leader of our group, Andreas Seidl, and his vision.

“So we are fully transparent. I think that we have already performed a good recruitment plan, and we will see people coming each week.

“We are working hard, but as I mentioned, it is a long process. For me, there is no distraction.

“Of course, there is a lot of media speculation, as always in F1, but this is part of our sport. And I'm happy to see the interest around the project.”

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