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Audi to enter Formula 1 in 2026

1 month ago

Writer:

Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder

Date:

26 August 2022

What is the correct term for a news story that in fact isn’t news to anybody? We have known for some time that Audi was preparing to enter Formula 1 and this morning, on the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, the German marque confirmed exactly that.

Audi will enter the series in 2026 with its own powertrain, partnering with an existing team to field a full Audi-branded assault on the pinnacle of racing. 

In doing so, Audi will be taking on the might of Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari, F1’s two other global car makers with their own teams and powertrains. Audi says it will ‘announce a decision on which team they will be lining up with in 2026 by the end of this year’; rather than establish a new chassis design and manufacturing capability from nothing, Audi’s partner of choice is widely thought to be Sauber. 

What appears to be good news for F1 fans is less so for endurance racing enthusiasts, for this new project comes at the expense of Audi’s LMDh Le Mans programme which, unsurprisingly, has been discontinued. The marque’s Dakar Rally project will continue into next year at least. Speaking this morning, Audi chairman Markus Duesmann said he hoped there’d be a German driver in the team and a home Grand Prix in which this new squad can compete. 

Audi’s connection to F1 is tenuous at best, its only link being one of the four rings that made up Auto Union which competed in Grands Prix prior to the F1 era – so why this now? ‘The combination of high performance and competition is always a driver of innovation and technology transfer in our industry,’ says Duesmann. ‘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.’

From 2026, in time for Audi’s arrival, F1 will switch to new engine regulations that increase the power output of the electric motor and burn only carbon neutral synthetic e-fuels. From 2030, Formula 1 says it will be entirely carbon neutral. All of that, says Duesmann, was a prerequisite for Audi’s entry into F1. The Ingolstadt marque has already conquered rallying, Le Mans and DTM – will Formula 1 be next?

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