OFFICIAL: Audi Announces 2026 Formula 1 Entry

Formula One / 6 Comments

We all knew it was coming, but now it's official. The other Silver Arrows are finally in F1.

After months of rumors and false reports, motorsport's biggest open secret has now been confirmed. Ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, at Spa-Francorchamps, Audi has announced that it will enter Formula 1 from 2026 as a Power Unit supplier, following the FIA's recent confirmation of the sport's regulations from that year on.

"Motorsport is an integral part of Audi's DNA," says Markus Duesmann, Audi's chairman of the board. "Formula 1 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 1 and Audi both pursue clear sustainability goals."

That transfer of innovation and technology from motorsport is evident in the fact that the Audi R8 and all high-performance cars from Ingolstadt have a quattro AWD system.

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During a live Q&A taking place at Spa, Markus Duesmann was asked which chassis partner Audi would have. Rumors have suggested that Audi would partner with McLaren, Aston Martin, or Sauber, the latter of which is currently partnered with the Alfa Romeo brand. However, Duesmann has said that a decision has not yet been made and that a decision will be made public before the end of 2022.

Porsche is currently working on synthetic fuels to keep combustion alive in its road cars, but Audi has said that all of its new cars will be pure-electric vehicles from 2026, so why does F1 really matter to Audi and not Formula E? Well, the aerodynamic innovations made in F1 are far more sophisticated and teach brands more that can be applied to road cars than those in Formula E.

Similarly, the electric components in an F1 car are much more complex and can lead to efficiency technologies that will improve Audi's EVs. The basic, single-motor electric powertrain in Formula E has very little bearing on real cars.

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It's also worth mentioning that Audi continually cites sustainability and the benefits of synthetic fuel in contributing to a lower carbon footprint. This technology may one day convince Audi to return to combustion, but let's get back to what we know for now.

For the first time in over a decade, an F1 powertrain will be built in Germany. Audi's PU will be produced at Audi Sport's Competence Center Motorsport in Neuberg an der Donau, near the automaker's Ingolstadt headquarters. The Neuberg facility already has test benches for F1 engines and for testing electric motors and batteries. More is being done to get personnel, buildings, and technical infrastructure ready. This will all be in place by the end of the year.

A separate company was recently founded for the power unit project as a subsidiary of Audi Sport. Adam Baker, an engineer with plenty of senior motorsport experience, will be in charge of the F1 project as CEO.

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Audi will not be sharing anything with Porsche, and while Audi's engine will be built in Germany, Duesmann said that "if Porsche enters" (read, when Porsche enters), its PU production will take place in the UK. An announcement from Porsche must be imminent if Audi already knows what its plans are.

Audi expects to be competitive within the first three years of joining the grid. Unfortunately, Audi has decided to discontinue its LMDh project to focus on F1. However, it still wants to achieve an overall victory with its RS-Q e-tron at the Dakar Rally next year.

The main takeaways are these: Audi will join from 2026 and will provide the PU but will partner with an existing team, not create an all-new one. However, this is not a sign of low commitment, and Audi says it will be in the sport for a long time with the hope that this endeavor will accelerate the transfer of sustainable performance technology to its road cars. Rest assured that Audi is taking F1 seriously; an official announcement would not have been made if Audi was not already in advanced talks with its future partner. We just don't know who it is yet.

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While Audi does not have an official history in F1, it did feature prominently in Grand Prix racing that preceded the series' official formation in 1950.

Audi raced as Auto Union from 1935 to 1939, winning 25 races in the first three years alone with famous drivers like Hans Stuck and Bernd Rosemeyer. Audi even named the W16-engined Audi Rosemeyer concept after the latter - a car that many saw as the precursor to the Bugatti Veyron.

That period was also when a man by the name of Ferdinand Porsche was involved, as he engineered the V16 engine run by Auto Union's 'Silver Arrows,' a name that was shared by both Audi and Mercedes. Mercedes still uses the Silver Arrows nomenclature for its modern racing exploits in F1.

Sadly, once World War II broke out, both teams stopped racing and Auto Union never returned to the sport.

Audi will be publishing more details on its new F1 venture in the coming months, and we'll keep you updated as it does.

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