Sauber need early support from Audi to make 2026 F1 debut a success – Bottas

2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says Audi’s chances of enjoying success when it arrives in Formula 1 in 2026 rests on how much support they will give their chassis partner ahead of it.

Audi confirmed this week it will partner with Sauber, whose Formula 1 team is currently branded as Alfa Romeo, when it arrives in F1 as an engine manufacturer in 2026.

Former Mercedes driver Bottas is convinced Sauber can become a winning team with Audi’s support and is keen to be part of it.

“For this team in the end, if you look at the big picture, I think it’s huge,” he told media including RaceFans yesterday. “There’s big potential for Sauber with Audi.

“No doubt they want to succeed in the future. They want to do well, they’re serious. So I think for any driver on the grid and especially for me now being already part of Sauber it would be very interesting to be part of that project.”

Alfa Romeo’s Sauber branding deal will conclude at the end of the 2023 F1 season. Bottas says the more support Audi can give them after that, the better chance they will have of making a successful start to their partnership in 2026.

Audi will enter F1 with Sauber in 2026
“It depends how much Audi is going to support this team before they officially become the manufacturer. Obviously nothing changes next year, we are still with Alfa Romeo, and of course we hope that we can have a better car than this year.

“But then I think it depends on the support from 2024 onwards, how much they’re willing to support. If they’re really helping a lot and supporting and if the power unit is good in ’26, which is impossible to predict at the moment, then why not?”

The team is on course for its highest constructors’ championship finish for a decade, lying sixth in the championship with three races to go. With his recent experience of driving for a multiple championship-winning constructor, Bottas believes the team can realistically compete with the best given the support of a manufacturer like Audi.

“There’s still work to do, no doubt, that’s a fact. But it’s not like that far. All the facilities are there. Yes, still some facilities, some machinery, can be better compared to a championship-winning team. But it’s all feasible, it’s all possible.

“Still the amount of people in the team is still a bit less than what I saw last year. So there’s still a bit of work to do. But I think with the support of a manufacturer like Audi I see no reason why it wouldn’t be possible.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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7 comments on “Sauber need early support from Audi to make 2026 F1 debut a success – Bottas”

  1. Audi desperately needs to get Bottas and Zhou out by 26, that should help massively.

  2. Bottas was right. But I don’t think Audi should ever support Alfa Romeo.

  3. Bottas would like to dring Audi juice asap. We all know he would not be there in 2026.

  4. I doubt Audi will put a penny into sponsorship until their engine is in the back of the car. I’m not sure they’d be willing to stake their reputation until they’ve got complete control. Any aero development they fund up to 2026 will probably be nullified by regulation changes over the next few seasons.

    1. I don’t think you need to do any sponsorship, nor does it need to be called Audi in any form. But if they want to hit the ground running, it would not hurt them to invest in attracting personnel, updating the facilities to a more modern standard, etc. before 2026. Given that they’ll take their stake in Sauber before 2026 and will expand it going towards 2026, it would be prudent for them to invest as early as possible.

      Building the engine is just one part of their journey as a works team.

    2. Maybe VW is buying Renault pu’s.

  5. Bottas is right, but I’d be surprised if either he or Zhou are still there by the time Audi take full control. That’s no disrespect to either of them; I think Bottas has done pretty well to lead the team and Zhou is developing well but some 4 years down the line? I think both Bottas and Zhou will have either moved on or left by then and no doubt Audi, closer to the date, will have more a rounded picture of who they want to drive for them.

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