Sep.15 (GMM) Cristiano da Matta, a former F1 driver, has emerged as a leading candidate to head Audi’s new works collaboration in Formula 1 from 2026.
The Italian specialist newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that while Porsche’s future remains unclear, fellow Volkswagen-owned German marque Audi has now started an aggressive recruitment process.
“The plan is to buy Sauber,” said correspondent Andrea Cremonesi.
“Audi has clear ideas and is proceeding with a series of investments. The Neuburg headquarters will see new buildings added in the coming months.
“Now that the deal is out of the closet, the German manufacturer can also operate freely on the technical market to grow a department that currently has 120 employees.”
But the most surprising news so far is that Audi may be looking towards a former F1 and Indycar star to head the Formula 1 project – Cristiano da Matta.
Now 48, the Brazilian was a top racer on the American open-wheeler scene at the beginning of this century until he sustained a major head injury in a 2006 testing crash.
“For now, a team principal has not been assigned by Audi,” Cremonesi said. “But among the candidates is Cristiano da Matta.”
The correspondent said Audi already knows da Matta via the Formula E series, with Audi having tested Formula E motors and batteries over the last several years at its Neuburg base.
Red Bull’s Porsche deal collapsed because the famous German sports carmaker wanted at least 50 percent control of the energy drink company’s premier team. It appears Audi’s plans for Sauber are similar.
“Audi is not interested in simply being a power unit supplier,” said Cremonesi. “It wants to influence the team’s choices.
“The negotiations are underway and when the agreement is reached, the management framework will probably change.”
As for Porsche, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks the carmaker will now be looking for an alternative to Red Bull.
“They just need to study the situation and see if they can find another interesting project,” he said.
“They may not be able to come in 2026 – maybe it will be 2027 or 2028. In any case, the arrival of Porsche would be great news for the championship.”