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Formula 1 Alfa Romeo launch

Why Audi’s distant future in F1 is already helping Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Formula 1 drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu explain how Audi’s involvement will boost the Sauber organisation even in the short term.

Alfa Romeo C43, cooling detail

The team will continue to run under the Alfa Romeo name in 2023, and is expected to revert to the Sauber identity for two final interim years with Ferrari power, before its partnership with Audi begins in 2026.

The Hinwil outfit has also seen a change of management in recent weeks as Fred Vasseur, who hired both Bottas and Zhou, has left for a new job at Ferrari.

Meanwhile, former McLaren boss Andreas Seidl has arrived in the role of CEO, while managing director Alessandro Alunni Bravi will act as team representative on race weekends as Seidl concentrates on the bigger picture and preparing the ground for the arrival of Audi.

Despite the complications of the change of management, ownership and team name during the transition, plus the obvious focus on preparations for 2026, Bottas believes that Audi’s involvement can only be good for the team in the short term.

“I think first of all for everybody in the team and at the factory what is really positive is that everything seems really stable,” he said when asked by Autosport about the German manufacturer’s gradual takeover and the identity change.

“There's almost like a concrete base for the team, that everything for the future, whatever happens with names and stuff, is looking good. And with Alfa Romeo still one more year with the team, I think the best is just to focus on this year.

“Obviously it's really a shame to see Alfa Romeo leaving the sport, because I think it's a great brand. And it should belong in F1. But it's what it is, there's always changes happening in the world.

Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

“Then we [will] see with the rest after this year, whether it's going to be Sauber, that's not going to actually change anything in the structure of the team, it just changes the name. That's it.

“Knowing the support from Audi will be coming is only a positive. So we don't really have to worry about those names, or anything like that. So I think everyone is in a good situation.”

Zhou, who like Bottas is eyeing the possibility of staying in the camp until the Audi era, agreed that the team is now in a much better situation.

“From my side also I'm very happy, firstly to see how the team's future settled,” he said.

“Also I've been speaking with the people around us, and everybody is very motivated, because the last few years have been quite tough, people leaving or joining, new faces, new members.

“But now you really can see what is the future for this team. So it makes us, the drivers and engineers, want to do as well as we could to be getting the car better throughout every year.”

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Zhou stressed that the final year under the Alfa Romeo name was an important one.

“This season it's still [about] trying to finish high for Alfa Romeo, and there are going be very special events at tracks like Monza for us. It’s a huge historic brand, and it's where I started my first journey in F1.

“On the other hand, looking at the team, I think it's only going to be better because you can have more people involved in the future. So building Hinwil, the whole factory, it looks like it’s a very bright future ahead.”

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