Revealed: Audi F1 team sets the target year to become the ‘final product’

Jamie Woodhouse
Audi logo and the shadow created by it.

The Audi logo.

Stake team principal James Key has set a tight deadline for them to become the “final product” under their future Audi identity, with just a year on the clock.

The Sauber-operated Stake F1 Team is set to contest the 2024 and 2025 campaigns, though come 2026, the team will embark on a fresh and exciting journey alongside Audi.

A deal has been agreed for the outfit to morph into Audi’s works F1 team from 2026, running their newly-developed power unit as fresh chassis and engine regulations sweep through the series in time for 2026.

Audi need until 2027 to be ‘final product’

Work is well underway to prepare the team for Audi’s arrival with investment into infrastructure and personnel flowing, Key, formerly of Toro Rosso and McLaren, among the new arrivals after returning to the technical director role, having previously served in that position with Sauber between 2010-12.

Key admits the team will not be the finished article by the time that Audi joins the grid in 2026, though the wait is not expected to be a long one, with Key setting 2027 as the year for Audi to become the “final product”. recommends

Explained: The 2026 engine regulations set to seriously shake up Formula 1

F1 2026: Confirmed teams and power unit suppliers for F1’s huge regulation changes

“In terms of next steps, there’s a very significant well-documented plan,” Key told Autosport.

“We’re already acting on it. And attracting all the right talent to the team to join some very good talent that’s already there is obviously a priority that we’re working on hard in the background.

“There is a lead time to people of course, with garden periods. So we’re aware of that. We’re certainly not waiting for that, there’s a lot of stuff we can do now without any extra people and so on.

“But ultimately, to achieve our goals, we have to expand in all the key areas, and in fact in all areas. Everywhere has got to take a step up regardless of where we are in that process.

“So that’s the short-term ambition, exactly what we’re doing now, working closely with Andreas [Seidl, Sauber Motorsport CEO] on that for ’24, as well as the future. And then we’ll see how we go.

“I think ultimately, we’re probably not going to be the final product that we’re aiming for until about ’27 time really, because there is a lot to do. But we’ll be in far better shape as we approach ’26. And that will give us the opportunity to take the step forward we need to.”

The Alfa Romeo-Sauber partnership went out with a whimper in 2023, the team slumping to P9 out of 10 in the Constructors’ Championship as a much-improved F1 2024 is now targeted.

Read next: The many milestones Max Verstappen can reach in F1 2024 season