Sauber Formula 1 technical director James Key says that the team will not be the “final product” until 2027, its second year under full Audi identity.

The Hinwil organisation, which will run under the Stake F1 banner for two interim seasons before the entry of the German manufacturer, is currently being built up with extra staff and improved facilities.

However, Key, who joined in September, concedes that the job won’t be completed in time for Audi’s entry under the new regulations in 2026.

“In terms of next steps, there's a very significant well-documented plan,” he said when asked by Autosport about the team’s situation.

“We're already acting on it. And attracting all the right talent to the team to join some very good talent that's already there is obviously a priority that we're working on hard in the background.

“There is a lead time to people of course, with garden periods. So we're aware of that. We're certainly not waiting for that, there's a lot of stuff we can do now without any extra people and so on.

“But ultimately, to achieve our goals, we have to expand in all the key areas, and in fact in all areas. Everywhere has got to take a step up regardless of where we are in that process.

“So that's the short-term ambition, exactly what we're doing now, working closely with Andreas [Seidl] on that for '24, as well as the future. And then we'll see how we go.

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“I think ultimately, we're probably not going to be the final product that we're aiming for until about '27 time really, because there is a lot to do. But we'll be in far better shape as we approach '26. And that will give us the opportunity to take the step forward we need to."

Key, who enjoyed an earlier stint at Sauber in 2010-‘12, insists that it has a good basis on which to build.

"The team is growing, it's actually a very young team, despite the fact that I feel very old now in Sauber,” he said. “I felt quite young when I joined it before! But it is still growing.

“I think the period of stability it's had with the current major shareholder has been very good for it indeed. And it's been able to grow under that condition. And now it's got, of course, exciting future steps to take in the very near future as well.

“I think a lot of it is kind of consolidating what it has. I think being a relatively new member of the team now you can see where there's potential, you can kind of recognise there's a gap there that we can fill pretty easily with the talent we have in the team, or with the facilities we have on the team already.”