Oct.22 (GMM) Audi’s plans to take over Sauber and enter Formula 1 in 2026 still have the green light, according to veteran Swiss journalist Roger Benoit.
In recent days and weeks, rumours have suggested either that the German carmaker is pulling out of the deal altogether, or that the project will be transitioned to fellow VW marque Porsche.
But Benoit, who is famously close to the Hinwil based team – that is currently known as Alfa Romeo – says the rumours have likely been pedalled by rival F1 competitors.
“Every new project always attracts a lot of envy,” he wrote in Blick newspaper on the sidelines of the US GP in Austin.
“Suddenly, rumours have emerged – especially from France – that Audi is withdrawing again. Even though the Germans already own 25 percent of Sauber and the team is being expanded with new people every day.”
According to Benoit, rival teams are simply unhappy that Sauber-Audi have been poaching staff.
“Anyone who snatches people away from other teams, usually on the promise of higher salaries, will logically create enemies among all the teams. Sauber and Audi are now feeling this,” he said.
“The rumours of a withdrawal bring with them mental unrest and uncertainty.”
Benoit said new team CEO Andreas Seidl has received “many calls” about the rumours in recent weeks, but he has reassured them that “nothing” has changed.
“But Audi should publicly intervene in day-to-day business by mid-2024 at the latest. The current situation without a real team boss is not acceptable for the fans either,” he insisted.
Indeed, Seidl has been largely absent from the race tracks in 2023, with Alessandro Alunni Bravi instead serving as the nominated ‘team representative’.
“Seidl must now provide clarity to the outside world,” Benoit said.
“The fans will have to live with (Valtteri) Bottas and Zhou (Guanyu) in 2024 because there were no good alternatives on the market. In the season before the final one without an Audi engine, it was better to stick to the old pan – close your eyes and just hope for points.
“This is how Sauber fans have been living for many years now,” he added.