Audi gives itself three years to become competitive enough to fight for victories and titles.
The German brand has announced its entry as a competing brand in 2026, but its intention is to do so as a complete team, as clearly indicated by the presence of a ‘showcar’ – the same one that the FIA used to present this year’s Formula 1 rules – absolutely decorated with the colors of the brand with the four rings.
Although in the presentation of Spa-Francorchamps those responsible for the brand said that the team-partner will be announced later, before the end of the year, it is clear that this will be Sauber. The brand with the four rings would take a 75% stake in the team, perhaps via a capital increase to be able to face improvements and updates to the facilities, although these are complete.
The fact that Alfa Romeo, Sauber’s current title sponsor, has announced it will cease support for the team at the end of 2023 – they recently renewed the deal for next season – is indirect but reliable confirmation of the plans.
Audi’s men would thus have two years to cement their plans: reinforcement of material and human resources and connecting the team.
Audi chief executive Markus Duesmann explained that there is a lot of pressure to be ready in 2026 but said ” winning up front would be ideal but not realistic “. Not even Mercedes did it despite the fact that it entered in 2010 after having bought the champion team, Brawn.
Duesmann, however, admitted that Audi has “a plan or ‘timing’ of what we want to do. In three years we should be competitive .” It should be remembered that Mercedes needed 41 Grands Prix for its first victory and did not achieve the title until its fifth season. Honda needed much more time to achieve its first victory, twice as long as Mercedes – 90 Grands Prix – and seven seasons for the title. In the case of Renault, after acquiring Lotus – or reacquiring what had been his team – and using his time to reassemble it, he has needed 111 Grand Prix to achieve his first victory, but this one occurred last year in Hungary and in atypical circumstances. ; in fact, the French remain a midfield team.
“Although there are less than four years left for us to be on the grid – in fact, three and a half until March 2026 – and that is not a long time to be ready to compete at the maximum, we have to adapt the infrastructure that we have to the standards of F1 and that takes time, although we are already working on it,” Duesmann said.
He himself pointed out that they already have a magnificent team working on the subject, but that it is still small and they will need to reinforce it with people with experience “and that also takes time.”
Duesmann pointed out that ” the big difference with other categories is that the necessary investment is much greater . That is why you have to be involved in it for the long term”.