Audi Shocks with Own Engine on Expected F1 Entry News
Audi has confirmed that it will race in Formula 1 from 2026. There were no surprises at the Ingolstadt carmaker, which won several grands prix as Auto Union in the 1930s, making the announcement ahead of this weekend’s Belgian F1 Grand Prix. But news that Audi will build its own engines, and that it is still to acquire a team to run the effort, were both unexpected.
Audi’s entry, heralded by these images of an F1 showcar in its colors, marks the Volkswagen Group’s first major step into Formula 1 following the FIA last week rubber stamping greener F1 rules from 2026. Audi is set to be joined on the grid by sister brand Porsche. The Stuttgart brand is in the throes of finalizing its partnership with Red Bull from 2026.
Its Own Audi F1 Powertrain is the Big News
The biggest news is that Audi will not after all share engine and power unit technology with Porsche. Led by Adam Baker, Audi will now develop its own F1 power units at its Neuburg facility. Test benches are already in place, with plans in place to expand personnel and infrastructure for the F1 project by the end of the year.
“Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA,” company chairman Markus Duesmann pointed out. “Formula 1 is both a massive global stage for our brand, and a highly challenging development laboratory. “The combination of high performance and competition is always a driver of innovation and technology transfer in our industry.
“With the new rules, now is the right time for us to get involved. After all, Formula 1 and Audi both pursue clear sustainability goals.” Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 follows years of links to a potential F1 entry. The company has traditionally focused on sportscar racing, Formula E and the Dakar Rally. Audi has canned its planned sportscar return to concentrate on F1.
Formula 1 is Delighted By Audi’s Arrival
Audi’s news is a major coup for Formula 1, “I am delighted to welcome Audi, an iconic automotive brand, pioneer and technological innovator,” F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali pointed out. “This is a major moment for our sport that highlights our great strength as a global platform and a huge nod to our sustainably fueled hybrid engines from 2026.”.
“You can imagine there was a huge discussion,” Markus Deusmann explained. “But we decided, as both our brands have a lot of fans and their own special character, that we should keep it separate and do two operations. “We will have different teams, and each powertrain will be designed especially for each chassis.”
“It costs time to integrate the electrified powertrain with the chassis,” Audi development boss Oliver Hoffmann added: “So Audi will have our own, completely different operations. “It will be a challenge to get this done by 2026, but I think we will find some compromise in the rules so we can arrive in F1 on equal terms with our new rivals.
Competitive Audi F1 Powertrain a Challenge by 2026
“We were able to develop the Dakar car, which is also a very complex drivetrain, in less than one year. “I think we will be able to develop this power train also by 2026. “We love the challenge!” Audi’s revolutionary Dakar program continues as planned.
While Porsche has remained focused on its pending partnership with Red Bull, Audi has explored options with several teams including McLaren, Williams and favourites Sauber. Swiss team Sauber operates the Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo squad. Audi was expected to confirm its team partner today, but that announcement will now follow later.
“The long lead is the powertrain, so we had to decide on the power unit. “That’s what we announced today,” Duesmann pointed out. “Regarding a team, there are several fantastic chassis partners on the grid, and we have spoken to them. “We inform you as soon as we know who our chassis partner will be. “We will do the decision within this year.”
Is Sauber the Audi Formula 1 Team Favorite?
Like it did with Joest in Sportscars and does with Quandt at the Dakar, Audi will not form a brand new F1 team. “We will have an Audi powertrain in an existing car, but we won’t set up a new team,” Duesmann concluded. “The starting position is much better with an existing team and car.”
In a twist shortly after Audi’s announcement, Sauber F1 partner Alfa Romeo Thursday confirmed that it will exit F1 end-2023. A deal with Sauber would likely see Audi take a stake in the team to return it to a works squad, as it was as BMW-Sauber until 2009.
Teaming up with an existing outfit also avoids the $200-million fee required for new F1 entrants. Duesmann however refused to comment on Sauber links. Watch this space!