Contrary to rumours Audi could back out of the Sauber takeover under Gernot Döllner’s leadership, it is being reported the new CEO gave the green light at a meeting in late November.
Last year Audi announced they had agreed on a deal with Sauber to become the Formula 1 team’s “strategic partner”, taking over the team in a works capacity in 2026.
Buying shares in the Formula 1 team, the first “minority stake” confirmed in early 2023 with more shares to follow, Sauber were said to be pressing ahead with plans for the Audi takeover. Until it went quiet.
Audi: There is no other decision
Sauber had little to say about Audi and Audi even less about their upcoming Formula 1 venture.
This led to speculation that Döllner, an outspoken critic of the billion-dollar adventure, was set to quash the takeover.
But according to Manager Magazin, that’s an ‘until now’ rumour as Döllner assured during an Audi AG management conference at the end of November that nothing has changed, Audi will enter Formula 1 in 2026.
According to the report, he explained how valuable the deal was for Audi and that withdrawing was not an option.
Döllner’s comments are said to have come at the end of his ‘100-day confidentiality obligation’ into Audi’s operations and future plans.
Jürgen Rittersberger, Audi AG’s Board Member for Finance, Legal Affairs and IT, stated: “We have a clear decision-making position on the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board. We are sticking to our timetable for entry in 2026. There is no other decision.”
Audi’s reassurance won’t be new news for Sauber with the team insisting last month when rumours that Audi could withdraw made the rounds in the French media that there was no cause for concern.
Sauber’s representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi told the media: “Audi have a strong commitment to Formula 1, of course together with Sauber.
“This commitment comes from a decision not only of the board of Audi but also the advisory board of Audi and the Supervisory Board of Audi Volkswagen. It’s a group decision and the commitment is there.”
Touching on why neither Sauber nor Audi had much to say to the media, he explained at the Brazilian GP: “Why there is a lack of communication is simple. We are the Alfa Romeo F1 team.
“So until the end of the year, we have certain limitations in communicating about the team, about the future, about the involvement of Audi and we fully respect Alfa Romeo for this.
“We don’t want to make any kind of announcement or more than what is strictly related to the race and the championship.
“The commitment, as I said, is there. We are working hard to develop the structure of the team.”
With a two-year stop-gap between Alfa Romeo and Audi, Sauber are expected to announce their 2024 and 2025 title sponsor when the FIA reveals next year’s entry list.