After a financial squeeze led to downsizing, the team employed just 220 people prior to the takeover by Finn Rausing in 2017.
With new investment in place, the team grew in subsequent years under the Alfa Romeo name, and by this season the headcount had more than doubled on Rausing’s watch.
The expansion process received extra momentum when Audi’s takeover was confirmed in August 2022, although many of those who have been signed up remained tied to rivals via gardening leave.
Alunni Bravi stressed that finding the right people was the priority ahead of building up the facilities for them to use.
“We have undertaken an important recruitment plan,” he said. “Of course, the result of the plan will be more visible in the next few years, because with every new appointment normally you have a gardening leave period to join a competitor.
“So we started with the recruitment. Of course, we will ramp up our structure, both in terms of head counts, in terms of technology, in the next few years because all the investment that needs to be made and put in place requires also a bit of time.
“I always said that, financially speaking, there was no problem. We started our journey in 2017 when I joined the team with Fred Vasseur. We were around 220 people, and we have reached more than 500 people this year, and we will take a step in terms of headcount also next year.
Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport
Audi CEO Markus Duesmann during the Audi press conference at Auto Shanghai 2023
“But it’s a process that takes time, and each year there is a plan to expand our departments, our facilities, and of course, our staff.”
Regarding Audi’s role in that process, he said: “I will say that there is a normal dynamic between the two shareholders, where all the investment plan for the future until 2030 at least is in discussion.
“And we are just working according to the governance in place. Of course, the governance will change according to the different steps in terms of acquisition that Audi will take. This is normal, as in any company where you have two shareholders.”
Like other midfield teams Sauber will benefit from an increased capex allowance that will allow it to spend more than the frontrunners on improving its facilities, a strategy agreed by F1 and the FIA in an effort to close up the field.
“We are the first ones to know that there is a step, a big step, that is needed in each single area,” said Alunni Bravi. “But we know that all the steps that we are doing, all the investment that we are doing, will lead us to a stronger position in terms of the package that we will be able to design, in terms of how we operate, in terms of processes.
“Don’t forget that we are working within a regulatory framework where there is a fixed perimeter in terms of cost cap, for the capex. We cannot do like it was in the past when a car manufacturer came and joined F1 and made massive investment in one or two years. We need to act according to the rules.
“And these extra allowances for capex that have been approved in the F1 Commission and by the FIA will allow us to accelerate that investment plan.
“But as always this is a technology sport. So we need time. We need to take the right decisions. And this is why [Sauber CEO] Andreas [Seidl] is fully focused, of course, on the transformation process as our leader of the team to allocate the budget when it’s necessary, when it’s more performance-related.”