Sauber has confirmed that there will be no visible Audi branding on its Formula 1 car next year, but emphasized that this decision does not affect its partnership with Audi for 2026.
The Swiss outfit is on the verge of concluding its naming rights deal with Alfa Romeo, a closure that could have opened the door to an early transition to its Audi identity ahead of the latter’s official entry into F1 in 2026.
However, Sauber has clarified that the decision has been made for the German manufacturer to maintain a low profile until 2026.
“Audi will enter in 2026,” commented the F1 team’s managing director Alessandro Alunni Bravi, quoted by Motorsport.com.
"Commercially speaking, it is important to have a big bang in 2026, not to dilute the Audi involvement with the team.
“So, we will continue as Sauber, based on the heritage of the group."
Nevertheless, the Hinwil squad will enjoy the presence on its cars next season of a new title sponsor whose name is expected to be revealed next month.
We already planned the next step. And of course, we signed that title partner already at the beginning of 2022 for the next two seasons.
"The FIA will publish the entry list of 2024 around the 10th of December, and we will also communicate at that time, not before, who will be the team name for the next two seasons and the title partners for our team.
"We have everything clear for the next two seasons. And I want to reiterate they are not two transition years. They are two years that are part of a long-term project that needs to bring the team to the next level."
Recent rumors suggested that Audi may have had a change of heart about its investment in F1 and was about to pull the plug on its plans to join motorsport’s elite.
The Ingolstadt firm has acquired a stake in Sauber Motorsport and is set to increase its holding to at least 75% by 2026.
Furthermore, the manufacturer has expanded its facility in Neuburg that houses its F1 engine department.
However little information has filtered on Audi’s progress or efforts, while the exit of Markus Duesmann, the former CEO of Audi who greenlit the initial F1 plan, only added to the uncertainty, especially as current CEO, Gernot Dollner, has remained silent on the F1 project.
But Bravi insists that Audi’s plans are moving forward while its commitment to F1 remains intact.
"Between Vegas and Abu Dhabi, I've been in Ingolstadt," said the Italian. "So, I think that there is a commitment.
"I've seen people that are fully committed, and they are working really hard. We know that the challenge is big, but there is a full commitment.
"The commitment of Audi was really strong from the very beginning," he added. "The project, the F1 project, has been approved by the Audi management board, has been confirmed by the Supervisory Board of Audi and has been then confirmed by the Supervisory Board of VW.
"So, it is a commitment at every level within the Audi/VW Group.
"The change of the CEO doesn't change this approach, because it was not a decision of a single individual or the board, it was a decision of the group."