Audi announce big update in F1 entry preparations

German automotive giant Audi have provided an update on their preparations as they gear up to enter F1 in 2026.

In a presentation at “Auto Shanghai” – an international motoring show in China – the German marque outlined more elements to its project.

Firstly, Audi announced an expansion in their Formula Racing department in terms of staff. They confirmed that over 260 new employees are now working in Neuburg. Further building work is also ongoing there to upgrade the facility.

Most important, though, is the news regarding their power unit. New engine regulations come into effect in F1 which have enticed the likes of Audi to join the grid. Now, the manufacturer has confirmed that their F1 power unit will begin test runs by the end of 2023.

“The full hybrid drivetrain unit, consisting of the combustion engine, electric motor, battery, and electric control unit, is scheduled to run on the test bench before the end of this year,” stated Audi.

“This will form the basis for the future vehicle concept.”

Audi also confirmed the development of an F1 standard simulator to further aid their overall development.

These are key steppingstones in the marque’s development plans. Additionally, all this signals the clear intent of the German carmaker’s entry into the sport. They are not looking to start slowly; Audi want to be competing right from the get-go.

How are Audi joining F1 in 2026?

By 2026, Audi will be a full-blown factory team competing in F1. Before this, though, they have become “strategic partners” with Sauber.

Currently running as Alfa Romeo, Sauber has an existing F1 entry slot and a decades-long history in the sport. The German brand bought a stake in Sauber in January 2023.

From 2024, Sauber will run under its own name. Whilst doing so, the team will use Ferrari engines through to the end of the 2025 season. Audi will then step up and supply the power unit from here. So, in essence, the automotive giant has a stake in an existing Formula 1 grid member, therefore can join with/re-brand that team.

The German brand expects to be heavily involved from 2026 as they provide the engine. However, Sauber will develop the car in their Swiss headquarters, and will still collaborate on the racing side.

With an incredible record across various disciplines of motorsport, Audi are keen to carry their pedigree into F1. The sport’s global reach happens to align with the brand’s marketing aims as well.

Audi chairman explains brand’s entry to the grid

Speaking at Auto Shanghai, Audi Chairman Markus Duesmann detailed the thought process behind joining F1.

“Motorsport is an integral part of our DNA,” said Duesmann. “We are convinced that our Formula 1 commitment will strengthen Audi’s sporting focus. The racing series is continuously increasing its global reach, especially among young target groups and in our most important sales market: China.”

The COVID pandemic prevented the Chinese GP from happening in 2023. However, it is still a fixture on next year’s calendar, plus has a contract until 2025.

But F1 has a highly competitive market to host a Grand Prix. It is therefore unknown if F1 will still travel to Shanghai by the time Audi joins the paddock.

Featured image credit: Audi media centre