Audi WEC technical director Zander returns to F1 with Sauber

© Getty Images

Jorg Zander, the technical director of Audi’s FIA World Endurance Championship operation, will return to Formula 1 in 2017 with Sauber.

Audi announced last week that it would be pulling the plug on its FIA WEC team at the end of the season in order to focus its efforts on Formula E moving forward.

On Monday, Sauber confirmed Zander’s appointment.

“I am delighted to return to the Sauber F1 Team in my adopted home country of Switzerland,” Zander said. “After many years at the top level in endurance motorsport, I am very pleased to become Technical Director and to undertake the challenge with Monisha Kaltenborn, the team, all the outstanding engineers and mechanics in the new era of Formula 1.

“The new Formula 1 regulations offer a great opportunity to point the way with innovations and technical creativity. One of my tasks will be to define a stable and efficient technical organization that evolves the potential of creativity and, therefore, the basis for the development of successful Formula 1 cars. Initially we obviously want to improve and establish ourselves as a team in the mid-field. Overall it is a challenge which I await with excitement and enthusiasm.”

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn added, “We are very pleased about the appointment of Jörg Zander as our new Technical Director at the Sauber F1 Team. We are honored that we have convinced such a renowned and experienced technical leader to be part of our team and plans for the future.

“This is a very important step for the implementation of our strategic goals, in order to guide the team into a new and successful era. Zander fits well into our team, he has a lot of know-how in Formula 1, as well as in motorsport in general.

“As Technical Director he will have the overview as well as the responsibility for all technical departments. In our factory in Hinwil he will have the possibilities to work technically at a very high level. We are convinced we will make progress with him. We wish Jörg Zander a good start on his return to Sauber, for which we ensure him our full support.”

Zander, 52, first worked in F1 in 2002 with Toyota before enjoying stints with BAR, Williams, BMW Sauber, Honda and Brawn through to June 2009, when he left the sport to set up his own engineering company.

Zander joined Audi in 2015 as head of technology before becoming WEC technical director for the 2016 season.

The German is now set to return to F1 for 2017 as Sauber continues its recent recruitment drive triggered by Longbow Finance’s takeover of the Swiss team in the summer.

Sauber had been struggling financially for some time, sparking fears in the paddock that it may not make it to the end of the season, but the buyout has secured the long-term future of the operation.

Ex-Williams and Toro Rosso engineer Xevi Pujolar, former Haas and Ferrari strategist Ruth Buscombe and experienced aerodynamicist Nicolas Hennel de Beaupreau have all joined Sauber in the past three months.

Zander will enjoy his final race with Audi in Bahrain on November 19.