Audi Sport will race in F1 in 2026, with its own engine built in Germany.
Audi has confirmed the worst kept secret in motorsport by announcing it will join Formula 1 as a powertrain supplier from 2026. The announcement came ahead of the 2022 Belgium Grand Prix.
Confirming the not so surprising news, Audi confirmed its decision to go single seater racing and ditch its LMDh World Endurance Championship plans was down to the new Formula 1 technical regulations that come into force from the 2026 season.
“In view of the major technological leaps that the series is making towards sustainability in 2026, we can speak of a new Formula 1. Formula 1 is transforming, and Audi wants to actively support this journey,” explains Oliver Hoffmann, board member for technical development at Audi AG.
Earlier this year Formula 1 and the FIA ratified the 2026 engine regulations, which will see the electric motors produce in the region of 410kW, nearly as much as the 1.6-litre turbo engines produce. The combustion engine will also have to run on carbon-neutral sustainable fuels, another key change that helped persuade Audi to invest in the sport.
A new subsidiary has been created within Audi Sport to design, develop and build its F1 power unit at the team’s headquarters in Neuburg an der Donau. Although before work can begin there is the small matter of redeveloping the site to accommodate the infrastructure required by taking on such an undertaking. Audi’s new engine will be the first German built F1 engine for over a decade since BMW left the sport. Mercedes’s all conquering F1 power units are built in Brixworth, in Northamptonshire.
Audi’s Formula 1 project will be headed by Adam Baker, who until recently worked at the FIA for three years as Safety Director. The manufacturer will announce which team it will supply by the end of the 2022 season, although with Alfa Romeo announcing it will end its agreement with Sauber at the end of the 2023 season, it doesn’t take a genius to work out which team will carry the Audi branding.
Audi’s announcement comes after years of speculation that it would enter F1 following its domination in sportscar racing, but its entry was vetoed by the late Ferdinand Piëch who had no time for the sport or those running it. But following his death in 2019 and the metronomic rise in F1’s global popularity off the back of the Netflix docu-soap Drive to Survive, the VW Group board has been pushing hard for one or more of its brands to join motorsport’s biggest race series.
With Audi’s participation confirmed it now only leaves Porsche’s 50 percent purchase of Red Bull to be ratified before the 2023 season for the Stuttgart brand to confirm its return to the sport it last competed in F1 as an engine supplier to Arrows, which wasn’t it most successful motorsport experience to say the least.