F1, FIA should help Sauber-Audi succeed – Bravi

Sun, 3 September 2023, 11:00

Sep.3 (GMM) Sauber is already working hard to prepare for Audi’s full works project in Formula 1.

The Swiss team is currently called Alfa Romeo, but former McLaren boss Andreas Seidl is now working hard back at Hinwil to ramp up operations ahead of the 2026 transition to Audi.

“We aim to grow our staff from 550 to around 900 employees,” said Alessandro Alunni Bravi, who is the official ‘team representative’ for Alfa Romeo in Seidl’s usual absence at the grands prix.

At Monza, Bravi told La Gazzetta dello Sport that another effort underway at the team is a push for Formula 1 to help midfield teams like Sauber to catch up if their ambitions rise.

“The big teams have had the opportunity to invest for years without limitations on infrastructure,” he said. “But now there is this cap on costs.

“We, and the other second-tier teams, would like to have the freedom to divert extra funds to infrastructure and production.”

Hinwil aside, another 350 Audi employees are now working full-time on the 2026 power unit in Neuburg, Germany.

“A state-of-the-art facility has been created with dynamic test benches and a simulator,” Bravi revealed.

“I’m hearing fanciful rumours, but I can only say that our schedule for now is fully respected.”

Some, though, have scratched their head at Sauber’s current approach – with Seidl largely absent at the races and Bravi in the odd ‘representative’ role.

“Seidl is the coach, I’m the team manager like Oriali,” he laughed.

Bravi admits that admires the management style of Frederic Vasseur, who recruited the Italian to be a lawyer for Vasseur’s junior racing team ART.

“For me, Fred is the best person for Ferrari right now,” he said.

“He is a very direct, transparent and non-political person, even if the challenge ahead of him is certainly very great. But I don’t see anyone else capable of conquering this challenge other than Fred.

“However, if he comes knocking on the door asking us for engineers, we’ll leave him outside,” Bravi laughed.

Bravi admits that it’s harder for Swiss and German-based Sauber-Audi to recruit F1 engineers from British-based teams.

“We are noticing much more interest now, though,” he reveals.

“The entry of a name like Audi into our shareholding, with the prospect of full control from 2026, is attractive. It’s no coincidence that James Key is coming from McLaren.

“But the problem of the difference in labour costs remains and will have to be addressed by the FIA and F1. Having a staff of 600 employees for a team based in Switzerland is equivalent in terms of expenses to that of a team with 900 people in another country.

“So if we want more competitiveness at the top, we need to create a financial system that guarantees equivalence.”

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