Audi will enter Formula One in 2026! | Top Gear
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Thursday 28th September
Formula One

Audi will enter Formula One in 2026!

Official confirmation that it’ll build its own engine and ‘line up’ with an existing team

Published: 26 Aug 2022

Huge (if expected) news: Audi will enter Formula One in 2026 with its own power unit.

Speaking on the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix, the German manufacturer finally confirmed its entry into the top tier of global motorsport as was widely rumoured following the release of new engine regulations that’ll come into force in the future.

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Audi’s new engine will be built in its Neuburg centre and its entire Formula One project will be run by a new company wholly owned by Audi Sport and headed up by Adam Baker. Baker spent three years working at the FIA before joining Audi in 2021.

The team has at this stage only revealed its intention to join as a power unit manufacturer and will announce the “team they will be lining up with in 2026 by the end of the year”, though it is widely tipped to take over the existing Sauber team - currently sponsored by Alfa Romeo - for a full works entry.

“Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA,” said chairman of the board Markus Duesmann. “Formula One 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 One and Audi both pursue clear sustainability goals,” he added.

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Those new rules, while still centred around the familiar 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engine, call for increased electrification – up to around half the total power output of the powertrain – and advanced sustainable fuel. Further, there’ll be a cost cap for power unit manufacturers introduced next year alongside the existing cost cap for teams, and F1 as a whole looks to become carbon-neutral by 2030.

Audi noted the series’ popularity, in part thanks to Netflix documentary Drive to Survive, that it was watched by more than 1.5bn people across the globe last year and that its reach on social media was gigantic.

The entry into Formula One means Audi will discontinue its LMDh project, however, having recently suspended the development of its endurance racer. It confirmed its intention to race in the Dakar Rally with the RS Q e-tron, but said that “Formula One is the next major milestone in Audi’s motorsport history”.

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali – who of course used to work in the Volkswagen Group as former Lamborghini boss – said: “I am delighted to welcome Audi to Formula One, an iconic automotive brand, pioneer and technological innovator. This is a major moment for our sport that highlights the huge strength we have as a global platform that continues to grow.

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“It is also 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.”

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