OCTOBER 28, 2023

Journalists warn Audi to tell the truth about F1 rumours

Three of the most respected journalists in Formula 1 have thrown extra light on the bubbling rumours emerging from the Sauber-Audi camp.

Valtteri Bottas, United States GP 2023
© Alfa Romeo

An article in Der Spiegel, a highly authoritative German news weekly, suggests that after Audi CEO Markus Duesmann's recent sacking, the VW-owned marque's board may be rethinking its 2026 commitment to Sauber and F1.

However, Michael Schmidt of Auto Motor und Sport reports that Audi's top brass in fact met on Monday, where cost-cutting measures under the new chairman Gernot Dollner were discussed.

The topic of Formula 1 was apparently not explicitly mentioned, Schmidt said, although he has heard that some board members and directors are rumoured to be against the F1 project.

New chairman Dollner, meanwhile, has arrived at Audi from Porsche - and there are rumours the Sauber-Audi project may simply be transferred to Porsche instead.

But part of the problem with the rumours at present is Audi's new chief Dollner is reportedly still in a confidentiality agreement with Porsche, where he is restricted in terms of what he can say publicly until December 9.

In the wake of the Der Spiegel article, it was therefore left to Audi's CFO Jurgen Rittersberger to make a brief comment, insisting that the F1 project is still going ahead and that no other decisions have been taken.

Veteran Swiss journalist Roger Benoit wrote in Blick newspaper that Rittersberger's comments represent little more than a shy yes to F1 for now.

It is expected that the new CEO will comment on the Formula 1 campaign by the end of the year, Auto Motor und Sport's Schmidt added.

Financially, Audi is already extremely committed, with 25 percent ownership of Hinwil-based Sauber already set in stone. And by December, Audi will have taken over more than half of Sauber's shares for a whopping EUR 300 million.

Current team owner Finn Rausing has apparently signed a ten-year contract with Audi, which would cost the German carmaker a three-digit million sum to break as per a protective exit clause.

Another well-known German F1 journalist, Bianca Garloff, told Sport1: Audi has already spent a total of around EUR 500 million to enter Formula 1 in 2026.

As for the rumours, she explained: Where there is smoke, there is fire. But the project is not dead yet.

Benoit says the ball is firmly in Audi's court to clarify the firestorm of speculation.

Tell the truth! he exclaimed. After weeks of speculation, silence is no longer an option. The fans also have a right to know what's going on.