Sauber-Audi Formula 1 Project Faces Challenges and Delays

Sauber Audi Formula 1 Project Faces Challenges and Delays

Recently, there has been a lot of talk and uncertainty surrounding the Sauber-Audi Formula 1 project. Even though Audi now owns 25% of the Sauber team, there are rumors that they might back out. Adding to the confusion, Sauber has ended its partnership with Alfa Romeo, which has made it even harder to understand what’s happening with the project.

Sauber’s technical director, James Key, has now admitted that the team is behind schedule for the 2026 regulation change and that the project may not be the “final product” until 2027. He added that there is a lot of work to be done in various areas, and that the team will have to expand in all key areas to achieve its goals.

The team’s CEO, Andreas Seidl, reportedly started a push for Audi to invest more in the project to ensure it remains on track. Capital expenditure has been increased, allowing Sauber to spend an extra $20 million in the three-year cost cap reporting period covering 2024-2026.

A key challenge is staffing, with Sauber needing to increase its personnel numbers from around 550 to 850. However, the best engineers who suffered redundancy under the original cost cap implementation have all now been reallocated amongst other teams.

Sauber is believed to be using the increased expenditure to accelerate the team’s plans for infrastructure improvements. The cash is apparently available to increase the spending in line with the extra allowance.

Sauber has reportedly begun discussions on their driver line-up for 2026, and rumours suggest Carlos Sainz may be linked to the Audi F1 project.

Despite this setback, Key affirms that Sauber has a strong commitment to the project, with a decision from both the board of Audi and the supervisory board of Volkswagen. He emphasizes that the Audi-Sauber partnership is a long-term commitment and that there is governance in place for the different stages of the transaction that will be completed ahead of 2026.

Carlos Sainz’s Contract with Ferrari and Audi’s Entry into F1

Spanish driver Carlos Sainz’s contract with Ferrari ends soon and there are rumors that he may receive a one-year contract extension from the team. However, he may choose to wait for Audi to formally join F1 in 2026 since he is reportedly dissatisfied with Ferrari’s lack of long-term commitment.

There were concerns that Audi may not follow through with their plan to enter F1, but those fears have been laid to rest. The CEO of Audi previously mentioned that they would be “very competitive” within three years of their debut in 2026.

This is a daunting task for Audi, especially considering the current struggles of their affiliated team Sauber in obtaining points and rankings in F1.

Despite finishing sixth in the constructors championship after the new car design regulations were implemented in 2022, Sauber’s underinvestment in the years following BMW ownership has hurt their progress. They currently rank alongside Haas F1 and will likely only contend for ninth or tenth place in future races.


Will Audi back out of the Sauber-Audi Formula 1 project?

Despite rumors and uncertainty, Sauber remains committed to the partnership, with a long-term commitment from Audi and Volkswagen. The project is facing challenges and delays, but efforts are being made to ensure it stays on track. Sauber’s CEO is pushing for increased investment to meet goals, while the increased spending will also accelerate infrastructure improvements. Carlos Sainz’s contract with Ferrari may be extended, but he could be tempted to join the Audi F1 project in 2026.

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