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Audi plans will not hurt Ferrari relationship - Sauber

Audi plans will not hurt Ferrari relationship - Sauber
© Reuters
Sauber will continue to enjoy a strong relationship with Ferrari even though the team's partnership with Audi is now looming large.

Sauber will continue to enjoy a strong relationship with Ferrari even though the team's partnership with Audi is now looming large.

Late last week, reports in Germany suggested Audi's new CEO Gernot Dollner was fully supportive of the F1 project for 2026 - contrary to weeks and months of alarming speculation.

Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi agrees that the Audi plans are firmly on track.

"We are currently 550 people, half of a top team," he told Italy's Autosprint. "The objective with Audi is to progressively increase to at least 700 people. And that's not counting Audi's engine engineers."

Bravi clarifies that Audi already owns a "minority share" of the Hinwil based team.

"Over the next few years they will progressively acquire more of the company to reach the absolute majority at the beginning of 2026," he said. "At that moment the team will change ownership and name and run as Audi."

Until 2023, Sauber was officially called Alfa Romeo, but that naming deal has now ended. Alunni Bravi denies that the Italian carmaker's departure will hurt Sauber's ongoing relationship with current engine supplier Ferrari.

"Absolutely not," he insisted. "They are two very different contracts.

"Sauber will continue to race with Ferrari engines in the next two years - 2024 and 2025. The relationship with Ferrari is very important for us.

"To tie ourselves to Ferrari, we gave up our previous partners. In 2017 we had two supply contracts - one with Honda for the engines and one with McLaren for the gearbox.

"But as soon as the possibility of an agreement with (Sergio) Marchionne and Ferrari arose, we decided to stop the contracts because he (Marchionne) wanted to bring the Alfa brand back to Formula 1," Bravi explained.

But now, the Sauber name will be back for 2024 in conjunction with a naming deal with a sponsor - ahead of the start of the works Audi era starting in 2026.

"Audi has decided to enter F1 and equip itself with a team," Alunni Bravi confirms.

"in January 2023, Audi decided to acquire a part of Sauber from the current ownership. Ferrari was always been informed of the existing plans. The relationship with Maranello is solid for the next two years."

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