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Audi F1 tie-up a "game-changer" for Sauber, says Vasseur

Audi's partnership with the Sauber Formula 1 team from 2026 is a "game-changer" for the Swiss squad, reckons boss Fred Vasseur.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Following months of speculation, it was announced shortly before the recent Mexican Grand Prix that Audi had chosen Sauber as its partner for when the German car manufacturer enters F1's new engine rules era.

Sauber has had works partnerships in the past – most famously with BMW from 2006 to 2009 – and current team principal Vasseur thinks Audi's offerings will help the operation make big leaps forward in competitiveness.

"On the short-term view first: 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," explained Vasseur about what Audi's arrival would do for the team.

"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."

Although F1's financial model has changed, thanks to the arrival of F1's cost cap, Vasseur thinks that the levels of money involved are still beyond what a non-manufacturer team can afford.


Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing Press Conference

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

"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.

"I think we will touch the point later on, but we are still far away from the budget cap. And 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."

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Vasseur said that the plan for Audi's arrival was for its engine to be produced at its Neuburg facility in Germany, with the chassis element continuing to be manufactured in Switzerland.

"We will split completely operations," he said. "They will be in charge of the engine in Neuburg and the team will take care of the chassis and the operation on track, from Hinwil, that is clear.

"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.

"But I think it's a good way to operate the team. We had a look on what was working in the past on the other teams and the most important for me is not just the set-up in terms of shares or who is managing who, it's a matter of mindset, and to be able to build up in terms of strategy to be one single team and not to have teams fighting each other."

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