Sauber want to ‘give the best’ to Alfa Romeo as Audi Formula 1 entry looms

Henry Valantine
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur answers questions from the paddock. April 2022

Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur answers questions from the paddock. April 2022

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur says the Sauber team want to focus on keeping their partnership with the Italian marque moving forward, rather than unnecessarily speculate about a future relationship with Audi.

Audi and Porsche are both looking to find avenues for an entry into Formula 1 from 2026 onwards, with Porsche’s involvement heavily linked with being formed as a 50-50 partnership with Red Bull.

Alfa Romeo took over the branding of the Swiss-based team in 2019 after a year as title sponsors, the Sauber team running day-to-day operations at their Hinwil HQ under an unchanged management and ownership structure.

And the commercial and technical arrangement between Alfa Romeo and Sauber has been a fruitful one on both sides, according to the team principal, with Alfa CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato having previously confirmed their partnership will continue into 2023.

 

Zhou or Pourchaire for Alfa Romeo next year?

Alfa Romeo have a decision to make about whether to stick with Zhou Guanyu, or promote Theo Pourchaire from their academy.

 

“I am more than happy with the partnership with them because they are not just a sponsor, but we are partners and developing projects together,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com.

“On top of everything, the relationship between Alfa Romeo [and] Stellantis [Alfa Romeo’s parent company] at one end and the team at the other end is very, very good.

“I think also, somehow, perhaps part of the good results today is because we are all working together and they are helping us also to find other partners. I really enjoy the partnership.”

The 2026 power unit regulation negotiations have been a key factor behind the interest of Porsche and Audi in entering Formula 1 and the specification has now been agreed and signed off.

Neither brand had yet to officially confirm its commitment to joining the sport at time of writing, but Vasseur said the time for conversations on partnerships will only come once their entry is solidified.

But in the meantime, he wants to make the most of Sauber’s current arrangement with Alfa Romeo.

“First, I think they need to clarify the situation on the engine,” Vasseur stated.

“Sure, they will discuss with everyone in the paddock. They will do their job. As soon as they will have confirmation of their commitment on the engine, it’s probably time to discuss.

Audi logo in focus next to Porsche. Berlin February 2022.
Audi logo in focus next to Porsche. Berlin February 2022.

“But the most important thing is we have the project with Alfa Romeo today. I don’t want to mix everything. I want to give the best to Alfa Romeo.”

Audi have been having conversations with several teams about how they will enter Formula 1 in the future, although McLaren CEO Zak Brown insisted their team is “definitely not for sale” after rumours of an Audi buyout emerged at the end of 2021 and “very preliminary” talks had taken place between the two.

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll also revealed talks had taken place between he and Audi earlier this year, with several potential avenues available to the Volkswagen-owned brand when their entry has been confirmed.