This weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix marks a year since Audi formally announced its 2026 F1 entry initially via a works powertrain programme before confirming a Sauber buyout.
Audi has subsequently taken steps to replace CEO Markus Duesmann, who was in charge during the introduction.
The manufacturer’s engine programme is rumored to be significantly delayed. In June, Audi confirmed the successful testing of a one-cylinder prototype engine, with plans to have a fully functional version ready for dyno testing by the beginning of 2024.
Despite receiving significant financial support from Audi, Alfa Romeo-branded Sauber has faced challenges this season and has not been able to fully utilize the increased budget due to various obstacles.
Motorsport.com inquired about the status of the 2026 programme, and Sauber’s managing director, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, assured that there is no need for any alterations to the current plan.
The Italian attorney expressed their satisfaction with the conclusion of the Audi project. However, they emphasized that such information should not be disclosed to the public.
Regarding our program, it is currently heading in the right direction. We are putting in significant effort to enhance the team over the upcoming two seasons.
“We are aware of the limitations imposed by financial regulations, but we are actively working with Andreas Seidl [Sauber CEO] to identify and address any weaknesses within our team. Our aim is to explore the market for the best opportunities available and enhance the quality of our team while also improving our facilities.”
“There is no alteration for us, nor for Audi.”
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative, Alfa Romeo F1 Team
Photo by: Alessio Morgese
Ex-McLaren team principal Seidl has moved to hire his former Woking colleague and technical chief James Key, who was sacked earlier this year by Seidl successor Andrea Stella.
The Alfa Romeo set-up, which enjoyed a strong start to the ground-effect rules in 2022 owing to its initially lighter car, finished sixth last year but has now dropped to ninth.
Discussing the dismissal of Duesmann – a decision that follows the overarching Volkswagen Group removing boss Herbert Diess – Alunni Bravi said: “The Audi project is based not on a single individual but is a project for all the company that has been, I would say, welcome at any level. I think that there is no change.
As a collective, we collaborate to prepare ourselves for 2026. However, it is important to note that this endeavor is not without its difficulties.
“We face formidable rivals, so it is crucial for us to remain humble and consistently strive for excellence on a daily basis. The competition is exceptionally fierce for all, particularly within the PU manufacturing industry.”
I believe that the competition in 2026 will be exceptionally fierce. Therefore, our main priority should be to stay dedicated to our tasks, and the departure of Mr. Duesmann has not altered this.
Oliver Blume, who was the CEO of Porsche when the company showed interest in F1 and had unsuccessful discussions with Red Bull, has now been appointed as the highest-ranking executive at Volkswagen.