German manufacturer Audi will join the ranks of car companies that have competed in Formula 1 as of 2026.
The firm have revealed that they have been accepted by F1 as a power-unit manufacturer, although there’s still some confusion as to whether that will be as part of their own team or in delivering tech for an existing franchise in the sport.
The BBC is reporting that Audi plans to buy a controlling stake in the Sauber franchise, which is currently competing under the Alfa Romeo moniker, and become a manufacturer in their own right as the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes have done.
Alfa Romeo have since confirmed their plans to exit title sponsorship of Sauber at the end of 2023, and the move signals a clear intent from the Volkswagen Group, the parent company of Audi, to make a concerted entry into F1.
It has long been rumoured that Porsche, another Volkswagen brand, will join Formula 1 in the near future, with suggestions that they will partner up with current champion constructor Red Bull, also in time for the 2026 season.
However, it is thought that Porsche would operate from a base in the UK, with Audi instead staying in their native Germany.
The Green Team
The reasons that Audi and perhaps Porsche are ready to get involved in Formula 1 are two-fold.
Firstly, new rules on the construction of F1 cars have made the sport more competitive – Mercedes’ monopoly on the title has ended, and therefore there are lower barriers of entry in hitting the ground running.
And the sport’s commitment to lowering its eye-popping carbon footprint has also encouraged the environmentally-conscious Volkswagen Group to throw their hat into the ring.
A pivot to the current 1.6-litre turbo hybrid engines will see a greater proportion of power sourced from the electrical element, with a requirement for more than 50% to be powered by electricity phased in during the coming years.
Fully sustainable fuels, derived from synthetic materials, will also become the norm, and this shift in mindset has attracted the interest of greener manufacturers. Audi themselves are planning to become a fully electric brand by the end of 2026, while Formula 1 chiefs have committed to being fully carbon neutral by 2030.
Announcing the decision, Audi’s chairman – Markus Duesmann – revealed that his company felt the time was right to make the move into F1.
“Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA,” he said.
“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.”
Making his own comments on the move, Formula 1 supremo Stefano Domenicali said:
“It is a big recognition that our move to sustainably-fuelled hybrid engines in 2026 is a future solution for the automotive sector.
“We are all looking forward to seeing the Audi logo on the grid, and will be hearing further details from them on their plans in due course.”