‘Impossible for Sauber to exist as independent team’ as Audi link takes shape

Michelle Foster
A Sauber Engineering logo on the Alfa Romeo. Italy September 2020.

A logo for Sauber Engineering appears on the side of the Alfa Romeo. Italy September 2020.

Swapping Alfa Romeo for Audi, Fred Vasseur believes Sauber needed to link up with the German carmaker as “it’s quite impossible” to compete as an independent outfit.

Sauber is one of Formula 1’s last independent teams, running under the Sauber name until 2018 when it was renamed Alfa Romeo.

That, though, was a naming right as the team’s title sponsor, the ownership of the team and the racing licence remaining under Sauber’s name.

The team’s deal with Alfa Romeo expires at the end of next season, Alfa Romeo announcing they would not be renewing, with Audi set to step into the breach but only in 2026.

That year Sauber will compete as the Audi factory team, running Audi power units.

It’s the next chapter in a team that briefly belonged to BMW, the German carmaker buying the team in 2005 only to sell it back to founder Peter Sauber a few years later.

Vasseur believes Sauber’s upcoming deal, which will see the team run as a works outfit, is a “huge opportunity”.

“On the short-term view first,” he explained, “it won’t have a big impact except that for us that we know that we can go to the next step and it will be a huge opportunity in terms of recruitment and to be more attractive also for the sponsors for the future.

“But mid-term, for sure it’s a game-changer, because we will have this kind of partnership, and I think F1 is getting more and more difficult.

“F1 did a huge step up the last 10 years and, to stay as an independent team today, it’s quite impossible from my point of view.

“It was probably the best option we could add and [we are] more than happy to have this kind of deal for the future.”

It’s a deal that means more money for the team with Vasseur revealing they haven’t been operating at the cap ceiling.

“We are still far away from the budget cap,” he said. “That means that we are fighting to be at the budget cap and even in this, we are still far away on that.

“We are absolutely dependent on the results.

“If you want to have a long-term view and you have only three or four independent teams it will become more and more difficult.”

The team boss also revealed that Audi will be buying a stake in the Formula 1 team in the years to come but wouldn’t go into details.

“They will take some shares in the company in the future but we didn’t disclose the details of this and I won’t do it today,” he said.

With two races remaining in this year’s championship the Hinwil team is P6 in the Constructors’ Championship, just four points ahead of Aston Martin.

Read more: Mick Schumacher has Audi chance in 2026 but ‘until then, where does that leave him?’