By James Broughton, August 26, 2022
Audi executives used the first day of the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix weekend to maximize publicity for the company’s plan to enter Formula One in 2026. Audi is expected to take over the Sauber F1 team which is currently supported by Alfa Romeo as a mock works team in all but name. In perfect timing, Alfa Romeo today confirmed they will withdraw from F1 after the 2023 season which will take its tenure of Sabuer to five years. Audi is expected to link up with Sauber as an engine supplier.
Audi has plenty of motor racing pedigree and enjoyed an 18-year-long endurance racing run becoming the second most successful team before they quit the sport in 2016. Audi also entered the Formula E series in 2014 and racked up 14 victories and 47 podium finishes. The quit the sport in 2021.
However, Formula One is another level and a massive step up. Car manufacturers who newly enter the sport face an uphill baptism of fire from the word go. Many fail or take years, in some cases a decade, to get to the front of the grid. Toyota and BMW are two examples of car manufacturers who entered F1 with enormous resources and failed.
Honda is another example, they initially struggled when it re-entered the sport with McLaren in 2015 despite dominating F1 in the 1980s and early 1990s. Audi will not have an easy journey because F1 engineering is akin to rocket science from the engine, transmission, mechanical, and to aerodynamics.
Audi has time on its side, but 2026 will come faster than its well-organized development schedule can cope with. Nevertheless, Audi Audi chairman Markus Duesmann revealed what a mocked-up Audi F1 car will look like in 2026. Speaking to reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix launch reveal Duesmann said:
“I want to officially announce that Audi has officially registered as PU [power unit] Formula 1 manufacturer. So we will, in 2026, start racing in F1.”
“Racing motorsport is in the DNA of Audi. Audi has always been active and been successful in motor racing.”
“I think it’s perfect timing, due to the new rules that were established, for us to enter F1. There are many aspects.”
“One, we have decided to be a full electric car manufacturer. And F1 did change the routes in a way that we can hunt with a very high electric part of the power train with renewable fuels. And Formula 1 has installed a cost cap that makes it very attractive for us to enter now.”