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Audi Joins F1: Villeneuve Questions Strategy

16/04/2024

Jacques Villeneuve raises concerns about Audi’s strategic move into Formula 1 with Sauber, questioning the long-term viability and decision-making as the German automaker takes a risky leap into the competitive racing world.

The 1997 world champion is actually a big fan of the German automaker owned by VW, having recently received his order: a fully customized bright pink RS6.

Villeneuve: Sauber's Audi F1 Project Poses Risks

What he supports less, however, is Audi’s choice of Formula 1 partner, the Swiss team Sauber.

“Well, they are joining a team that hasn’t been good for so many years. And you can’t invent expertise. It’s something that builds over time.”

Villeneuve, who won his title with Williams, actually drove for Sauber towards the end of his F1 career—when the team was private in 2005, then again in 2006 with the support and ownership of BMW.

And now, he wonders if Sauber’s new venture with Audi will be more successful.

“You can see it with Williams. You know, they remain pretty good for a while, but you pay the price of pay drivers, all that, and you regret it later. And now, Sauber is rebuilding, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It also takes time. So, a good team based on Sauber won’t happen overnight.”

“And then, how are they (Audi) going to join us in F1? Are they joining in the same way as Renault-Alpine just to be part of F1 and make a name, or to actually lead and try to win by putting all necessary and possible means into it. That, we do not know.”

Villeneuve also states that Sauber risks reliving the BMW era when the automaker suddenly decided to completely withdraw from Formula 1 after a disappointing 2009 season.

Sauber then spent several seasons just fighting for survival.

“What’s dangerous with manufacturers when they arrive is that they can easily decide in five minutes ‘okay, we’re leaving, goodbye’—they leave and don’t care. Except now Audi has bought Sauber. So, they can make it disappear. They are excellent for the sport, but they are also very dangerous in that regard.”

“Whereas a team like Williams, which remains independent, can’t just leave. It exists with and because of F1. What would Williams do if they stopped F1? Nothing.”

“So, you’re kind of sure to know that they will find a way to persevere to improve and because it’s their bread and butter.”

Villeneuve: Sauber's Audi F1 Project Poses Risks

Villeneuve: Sauber’s Audi F1 Project Poses Risks. Villeneuve: Sauber’s Audi F1 Project Poses Risks

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