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German luxury carmaker Audi has announced a partnership with Sauber for the 2026 season that will see the German carmaker make its F1 debut as an engine manufacturer.
The partnership between Audi and Sauber will see the Swiss team compete as the Audi factory racing team. Audi announced its entry into F1 for the 2026 season as an engine supplier earlier this year in August. Audi now plans to plans to acquire a stake in the Sauber Group.
Audi will produce the engines for its new factory racing team at its Motorsport Competence Center in Neuburg an der Donau in Germany. Sauber will develop and manufacture the race car at its base in Hinwil, Switzerland. Sauber will also be responsible for planning and executing the race operations.
Audi's decision to enter F1 was confirmed after the racing series announced its new engine regulations which will come into effect in 2026. The German firm's engine production facility is in full swing and it already has 120 people working on the project.
Audi hopes that expansion of the Neuburg facility in terms of personnel, buildings and technical infrastructure will be largely in place in 2023. The first tests of an Audi F1 engine for the 2026 regulations in a Formula 1 test car are planned for 2025.
While the engine in F1 cars will remain a 1.6-litre V6 hybrid unit, engine manufacturers will be ditching the complex MGU-H system. From 2026, the hybrid engines will also be producing more power than the current setup from the electric motor. Audi claims that the electric powertrain will produce as much power as the turbo V6 engine which is around 536bhp (400kW).
The 2026 V6 engines will also run on sustainable synthetic fuel that is CO2-neutral as F1 looks to become carbon-neutral as a racing series by 2030. F1 moving towards a sustainable future was one of the prerequisites for Audi's entry into F1.
Speaking about the partnership with Sauber, Oliver Hoffmann, a Member of the Board for Technical Development at Audi said, "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."
Finn Rausing, Chairman of Sauber Holding also gave his thoughts about the new Audi partnership stating, "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."
Sauber's current title sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo will run out at the end of 2023. For 2024 and 2025, Sauber will continue to make use of Ferrari powerplants before becoming the Audi works team in 2026.
Thoughts About The Audi Sauber F1 Partnership
Audi's new partnership with Sauber will see the German firm enter F1 as a works team in 2026. Audi's sister VW group firm Porsche is still looking for a partner for its own F1 venture but with Ingolstad's takeover of Sauber in the works, the options for the Stuttgart-based firm seem to be running out.