Audi and Sauber will be partners, starting in 2026 when Audi will make its much-expected entry in Formula 1. The next significant step in Audi’s journey toward the FIA Formula 1 World Championship has been reached: the four-circle brand has chosen Sauber as its project’s strategic partner and intends to buy a share in the Sauber Group.
As a result of the cooperation, the established Swiss racing team will start employing the Audi power unit designed for the highest level of motorsport starting in 2026.
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Two top automotive brands
Following the announcement of its Formula 1 entry at the end of August, Audi’s confirmation of its strategic partner marks the next milestone in the company’s entry into the premier class of motorsport. With around 30 years of competitive experience, the Sauber F1 team is one of the most renowned and traditional teams in the competition.
While the power unit will be created at Audi’s Motorsport Competence Center in Neuburg an der Donau, Sauber will develop and manufacture the race car at its site in Hinwil (Switzerland). Sauber will also be responsible for planning and executing the race operations.
“We are delighted to have gained such an experienced and competent partner for our ambitious Formula 1 project. We already know the Sauber Group with its state-of-the-art facility and experienced team from previous collaborations and are convinced that together we will form a strong team.” sayd Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board for Technical Development at AUDI AG.
For instance, during the successful Le Mans period and during the development of Class 1 touring vehicle for the DTM, Audi Sport has previously often used the high-tech wind tunnel of the Sauber Group in Hinwil, which is a little under four hours away by road.
Audi and Sauber share a vision of performance
“Audi is the best partner for the Sauber Group. It is clear that both companies share the same values and vision. We are looking forward to achieving our common goals with a strong and successful partnership.” said Finn Rausing, Chairman of Sauber Holding.
The specifically established Audi Formula Racing GmbH facility in Neuburg a der Donau is where the power unit, which comprises of an electric motor, battery, control systems, and combustion engine, is now being developed in full swing. The project already has more than 120 staff working on it.
“Sauber is a first-class partner for the use of the Audi Power Unit. We are looking forward to working with an experienced team that has helped shape many eras of Formula 1 history. Together, we want to write the next chapter starting in 2026.”said Adam Baker, managing director of the company.
First tests in 2025
The timeline leading up to Audi’s debut race in the 2026 season is ambitious: The Neuburg facility’s growth in terms of employees, facilities, and technological infrastructure should be substantially in place by 2023. In a test vehicle for Formula 1, the first testing using the power unit created for the 2026 rules is scheduled for 2025.
With the new rules set to take effect in 2026, Formula 1 will make a significant stride toward sustainability. This was a crucial need before Audi decided to compete in the championship. Due to the large rise in the share of electric power, the power units will be much more efficient than they are now.
The electric powertrain will then have over 400 kW more power than the internal combustion engine (544 hp). The CO2-neutral, sustainable synthetic fuel will be used to power the 1.6-liter turbocharged engines (according to EU standards). The Formula 1 racing series has likewise committed to being CO2-neutral by 2030.
Sauber Motorsport timeline
Engineering firm Sauber Motorsport AG is based in Switzerland. Peter Sauber, who advanced via hillclimbing and the World Sportscar Championship to reach Formula 1 in 1993, created it in 1970 (then known as PP Sauber AG). Alfa Romeo Racing is the new name of the Sauber F1 team, which had previously been known by that moniker from 1993 until 2018.
The team was sold to BMW in 2005 and raced as BMW Sauber from 2006 through 2009, finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship in 2007 and second in 2008. The team’s lone Grand Prix win came at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix. After a less-than-stellar 2009 season, BMW left Formula 1.
For many months, the team’s future was unknown until it was sold back to Peter Sauber and given a 2010 entry. The team’s name was kept as “BMW Sauber” for the 2010 season due to Concorde Agreement complications. The FIA stated that the team would have to wait until the conclusion of the season to change its name, despite Peter Sauber’s ambitions to do so in March 2010.
The team discarded the moniker “BMW” at the start of the 2011 campaign.
Monisha Kaltenborn, who had been the team’s top executive since BMW withdrew, owned the remaining shares until mid-2016. Peter Sauber controlled 66.6% of the team at that time. The team was sold to the Swiss financial company Longbow Finance S.A. during the 2016 campaign, and Pascal Picci replaced Peter Sauber as chairman of the board and president.