Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff predicts that moving some of the factory operations from Hinwil could become costly for Audi as they take over the Sauber team.
Audi will enter Formula 1 in 2026, the year new powerplants will be introduced, giving them plenty of time to design, build and develop engines in time for the change in regulations.
Sauber will continue to lead his team until the end of 2025, when the German manufacturer will take over and relocate part of the operations to Germany.
It is now clear that they will only manufacture the engines in Ingolstadt, but they will continue to produce the chassis used by Sauber in Switzerland.
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This is sustainable and cheaper in the short term as it saves them having to build a new facility in Germany to run all operations there, but there will be a catch.
Engine development is currently only limited by a certain number of hours on the test bench, but there is no cost ceiling.
Therefore, engines do not fall under the $145 million budget limit because it is the manufacturers, not the customer teams, that produce the engines.
However, there are plans to introduce a cost cap on the engines, so that manufacturers will receive additional remuneration for the work they carry out on the engines.
Traveling to another country with a motor in the car should fall under this budget, so obviously having a location in Germany and one in Switzerland will be a little more expensive.
Audi’s situation of only partially relocating F1 factories from Switzerland differs from Mercedes and Ferrari, for example, which do everything in the UK and Italy respectively.
Wolff expects Audi to bring in some Mercedes engineers to help with their factory project.
“We haven’t lost anyone to Audi, but there will be situations where some of the Mercedes or ex-Mercedes people will switch to Audi, there’s no doubt about that,” he said, per GPFans.
“This is an open market and between teams we have these movements.”
Red Bull, for example, has recruited engineers and mechanics to work on the engines they built at their additional base in Milton Keynes.
That happens again and again in Formula 1.
“We’ve also had this movement from other PU manufacturers, although we don’t issue a press release every time, that’s completely normal,” explained Wolff.
Due to travel expenses, Wolff expects Audi to face tougher restrictions in 2026 than Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.
“The biggest competition is and was Red Bull because they are just around the corner,” added the Austrian.
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“There is a bigger hurdle for SMPS manufacturers to go to Germany, so that’s definitely not my biggest concern.
“And the cost cap is about to get into the power unit realm as well, so that limits the amount of dumb money that’s being spent, which is important.”
Sauber will end its relationship with Alfa Romeo late next year before Audi will reportedly begin buying shares in preparation for the 2026 takeover.