Near the end of August, during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Audi confirmed that it would be entering the FIA Formula 1 World Championship as a power unit supplier for the 2026 season and beyond. Though, the German automaker didn’t confirm which cars would be fitted with its 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid engines. However, the worst-kept secret in the Formula 1 paddock was the identity of the team in negotiations with Audi.
Audi has now confirmed that it has selected Sauber as a strategic partner for its F1 program, and the German manufacturer will acquire a stake in the Swiss-based team. Sauber is currently competing in Formula 1 as the Alfa Romeo F1 Team. The team’s partnership with Alfa Romeo will end after the 2023 season, and Sauber will continue to use Ferrari power units until the conclusion of the 2025 season.
Audi will produce its 2026 power unit at its Motorsport Competence Center in Neuburg an der Donau, Germany while Sauber will continue to develop and manufacture its Formula 1 cars at its facilities in Hinwil, Switzerland. Over 120 employees in Neuburg are already developing Audi’s power unit. The aim is to have a finished product testing in a car by 2025.
Sauber CEO and Team Principal Fred Vasseur said:
“The partnership between Audi AG and Sauber Motorsport is a key step for our team as we continue to make progress towards the front of the grid. To become Audi’s official works team is not only an honour and a great responsibility: it’s the best option for the future and we are fully confident we can help Audi achieve the objectives they have set for their journey in Formula 1.”
The 2026 Formula 1 season may be just over three years away, but the efforts made now will determine how competitive Audi is out of the gate. Right now, Audi has the luxury of being solely dedicated to developing a power unit as Sauber races with Ferrari power units while the other manufacturers have to balance development with active competition.