Audi to fully own Sauber F1 team to accelerate racing entry

FRANKFURT: Volkswagen AG’s premium brand Audi will take over full ownership of Switzerland’s Sauber Group’s F1 team ahead of its plans to join the racing circuit in 2026.

The decision comes as part of an accelerated plan to start competing, with Audi’s development head Oliver Hoffmann (pic above) changing positions to oversee the venture, the manufacturer said Friday.

Audi bought a minority stake in Sauber in January of last year, with an initial plan to reach a stake of as much as 70%, under then-chief executive officer Markus Duesmann.

Late last year, new CEO Gernot Döllner decided to pursue 100% ownership, Bloomberg reported last month.

Döllner will take on technical development for Audi, in addition to his CEO role, as the luxury brand seeks to cut model development times and bloated structures.

Showcar with Audi F1 launch livery

VW gave Porsche AG and Audi the green light to pursue separate F1 entries in 2022, amid resurging popularity of the sport.

Investors and car brands are seeking to tap into F1 teams, which historically used to swap hands for as little as £1 and were the preserve of wealthy racing fans happy to subsidise the costly circuit.

Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll recently sold a stake to US private equity firm Arctos Partners, which also has stakes in the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club owner Fenway Sports Group, valuing the F1 team at about £1 billion (RM6bil).

Ford Motor Co. is also making a comeback in time for 2026, returning to F1 more than two decades after dropping out, after striking a deal with Red Bull in early 2023.

Sauber is owned by investment firm Islero Investments AG, which helps manage assets of the Rausing dynasty, the family behind Tetra Laval, one of the world’s largest food-packaging businesses.

Friday’s announcement didn’t give further details about the transaction.

While Audi is making headway, Porsche’s attempt to enter F1 soon broke down after it ended months of talks with Red Bull GmbH as a potential partner.
Autos Audi