- Partner team to be announced by end of this year
- Audi expected to take controlling interest in Sauber
Audi has officially announced that it will join Formula One from the 2026 season as a power unit supplier.
The Volkswagen-owned German car manufacturer is yet to reveal whether it will run or own a team, or just supply engines. Despite that, Audi is expected to partner with the Sauber team, currently racing as Alfa Romeo, amid reports that the company will purchase a 75 per cent stake in the Switzerland-based racing outfit.
The final details on the chosen team will be announced by the end of the year. Alfa Romeo has since confirmed that it will end its partnership with Sauber by the close of 2023, paving the way for Audi.
Speculation that Audi would be joining Formula One had intensified this season, but Volkswagen was waiting for the 2026 engine regulations to be confirmed before committing to the sport.
Other moves, like the introduction of a cost cap and the net zero carbon target for 2030, further encouraged the German marque to step into the global motorsport series.
The power unit will be developed at Audi Sport’s facility in Neuburg, Germany. The project will be run by Adam Baker, who has previously worked at Cosworth and BMW in Formula One. He joined Audi from his position at the International Automobile Federation (FIA) in 2021.
Audi reportedly began its engine development almost six months ago. There are test benches for Formula One engine testing, as well as electric motor and battery testing at the Neuburg base already, according to Audi. It claims the technical infrastructure and personnel will be in place by the end of the year.
“I am delighted to welcome Audi to Formula One, an iconic automotive brand, pioneer and technological innovator,” said Formula One president and chief executive Stefano Domenicali, who worked for Volkswagen for a stint starting in 2014.
“This is a major moment for our sport that highlights the huge strength we have as a global platform that continues to grow.
“It is also a big recognition that our move to sustainably fuelled hybrid engines in 2026 is a future solution for the automotive sector.
“We are all looking forward to seeing the Audi logo on the grid and will be hearing further details from them on their plans in due course.”
Markus Duesmann, chairman of the board of management at Audi AG, added: “Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA. Formula One is both a 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 One and Audi both pursue clear sustainability goals.”
While Porsche’s impending arrival into Formula One can be expected soon – it trademarked the term ‘F1nally’ two weeks ago – it is maybe a surprise to see Audi announced first out of the two Volkswagen-owned brands.
Porsche’s anticipated partnership with Red Bull will see it enter the upper echelons of the global motorsport series. Audi, however, is likely to be running in the midfield if it finalises its deal with Sauber. Whether it can drive the Swiss outfit up the grid remains to be seen, but justifying an investment of this scale to scrape points finishes will be difficult.
Audi, though, looks to be aiming high, setting its stall out by tweeting ‘rings are the new stars’. Comparing your new team to Mercedes, one of the most successful in Formula One history, is certainly a bold entrance strategy.