As announced by Sauber in recent days, Audi has taken over a minority stake in the Swiss team equal to 25%, with the brand symbolised by the four interlocking rings who will own 75% of the Hinwil-based team in 2026, the year which will mark the official entry of the brand owned by Volkswagen in Formula 1.
In this way, Audi is therefore laying the foundations to immediately start its experience in the top series as a top team, just as another German car manufacturer such as BMW attempted to do in 2006. Almost twenty years ago, the Bavarian brand acquired Sauber thus entering the sport as an official team, but with overall results that proved to be inferior to the team’s ambitions.
At that time, the role of Sporting Director was given to a top former driver like Gerhard Berger, who also raced for Scuderia Ferrari between 1987 – 1989 and between 1993 – 1995. Years later, in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, the 63-year-old Austrian recalled those years of partnership between Sauber and BMW, explaining what in his opinion went wrong and prevented the team from being able to aim for prestigious goals: “Sauber didn’t adopted the BMW mentality – he explained – instead maintaining its own culture. I don’t want to say it wasn’t good, but certainly not good enough to win the world championship.” – the former Ferrari man pointed out.
Returning to the present, however, Gerhard Berger then added another aspect that he did not particularly like about current Formula 1, linked in this case to the new technical-aerodynamic regulation introduced in 2022. A move which, according to the former F1 driver, didn’t lead to a more exciting on-track show for fans:
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“It was surprising that Formula 1 did so much publicity for a relatively weak show” – the Austrian believes – “If on the one hand I’m happy for Max Verstappen, on the other hand his domination has led to many boring races. We always hope for three or four teams that can fight for the win. Now I expect Mercedes to make a comeback this season. They took an aggressive approach in 2022 and it didn’t work out, which can happen. Now they know where the problems are, and they can face them to return to fighting for the championship title.” – Gerhard Berger concluded.