Audi will enter Formula One in 2026 with one of the sport’s existing teams and using a new power unit to be built in Germany, it announced on Friday. (Aug. 26)
The Volkswagen-owned premium brand said it would reveal by the end of the year which team it would be partnering with in the start of a new and more sustainable era for the sport.
The marque brand has been in talks with the Swiss-based Sauber Group, whose team competes under the Alfa Romeo name. Aston Martin and Williams, who both use Mercedes engines, have also expressed an interest in teaming up with Audi.
“Formula One is a global stage for our brand and a highly challenging development laboratory,” said Audi chairman Markus Duesmann in a statement coinciding with a news conference at Spa-Francorchamps.
“The combination of high performance and competition is always a driver of innovation and technology transfer. Now is the right time for us to get involved.”
Formula One will have a new power unit from 2026 with the focus on sustainability and a more cost-efficient future.
The new rules will also bring greater electrification and the use of advanced sustainable fuel, with power unit manufacturers also subject to a cost cap from next season.
“We have decided to be a full electric car manufacturer and F1 did change the so that we can enter,” Duesmann, who was previously involved in Formula One with BMW when it owned Sauber, told reporters.
Audi’s powertrain operations will be based in Neuburg an der Donau, near the carmaker’s headquarters at Ingolstadt, with a separate Audi Sport subsidiary being created for the project.
Adam Baker, a motorsport veteran and former employee of motorsport’s FIA governing body, will be chief executive of the Formula One project.
Porsche, another Volkswagen Group brand, is also expected to enter Formula One in 2026 in partnership with current championship leaders Red Bull.
Audi were 13 times winners of the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race before quitting in 2017 and the marque brand has a pedigree dating back to pre-World War Two Grand Prix racing as Auto Union.
“We will spend as much money as we did spend for the other racing series before, so for us it’s not an additional spend,” said Duesmann, who said the plan was for a very long-term engagement.
“There’s a high likelihood of having an Audi powertrain in an existing car. We won’t set up a complete new team. It’s much better if you start with an existing car.”
Duesmann said the plan was to be ‘very competitive’ within the first three years.