That's German efficiency for you.
The 2023 Chinese Grand Prix may have been canceled, but Audi brought its F1 team to China and revealed that its first 2026 power unit would be fired up by the end of the year. The German brand chose Auto Shanghai 2023 to update how its F1 efforts are going.
The most important bit of news is the progress Audi has made with the power unit. Developed entirely in-house by Audi Sport, the hybrid drivetrain, which consists of a combustion engine, electric motor, electronic control unit, and battery, will be up and running on a test bench before the end of the year. The future vehicle concept will be built around this power unit, and Audi is in the process of updating its simulator in Neuburg to F1 standards to further develop the power unit.
As you might know by now, Audi purchased a stake in the Sauber F1 team, which we currently know as Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake. In the years ahead, Audi is rumored to increase its stake in Sauber until it assumes a controlling share of the team.
"The Audi Formula 1 project has really taken off in recent months," says Oliver Hoffmann, board member in charge of technical development at Audi. "We attach great importance to detail work, for example, on materials or manufacturing technologies, and we also focus on topics such as the energy management of the hybrid drivetrain. After all, efficiency is a key success factor for Formula 1 and the mobility of the future, these approaches will advance both worlds."
The Audi Formula Racing GmbH in Neuberg already has more than 260 specialists working on the project. Audi sourced multiple experienced engineers from existing teams, and it's not done yet. According to Audi, it will be done hiring staff by the end of the year, at which point the employee tally will be over 300.
Audi will also expand the Competence Center Motorsport in Neuburg. It will install additional test rigs in an all-new building. This state-of-the-art facility has already been certified CO2 neutral, and the FIA has given Audi the highest distinction for environmental conservation and sustainability. An F1-badged Audi has yet to turn a wheel, and already the Germans are setting an example.
As a reminder, F1 is going green with the 2026 power unit regulations. These power units will be 50% combustion and 50% electric and will be powered by 100% sustainable fuel. The new regulations also make it easier for other brands to enter the sport, though Audi seems to have written a blank cheque.
These new regulations have had a massive impact on the sport. Ford is officially returning to Formula 1 as Red Bull's powertrain partner, and all-new teams like Andretti-Cadillac are using the opportunity to possibly join the grid. We might see a few more partnerships pop up in the coming months, but developing a new power unit takes time, and time is running out. Honda is officially listed as a power unit supplier, and we can't wait to see which team/s they partner with.
Porsche has given up on its dreams of competing in Formula 1 after it couldn't find a suitable partner. It's a pity because Porsche has done more for synthetic fuel than any other automotive brand.
That means only Audi will carry the torch for the Volkswagen Group in Formula 1, providing it with the perfect platform to market electric vehicles like the RS e-tron GT to the largest motorsport audience in the world.
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