Friday, February 3, 2023
News Audi Confirms it is F1-Bound For 2026 as Power Unit Supplier

Audi Confirms it is F1-Bound For 2026 as Power Unit Supplier

Audi headed to the top tier of racing in 2026

  • Audi confirms F1 return in 2026

  • Possible team partners include McLaren, Sauber


Audi is returning to Formula 1. The automaker made the announcement this morning ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. It puts to rest rumours that have been circulating for about a year now, but what isn’t answered is the biggest question: which team will Audi partner with?

“Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA,” said Audi chair Markus Duesmann. “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.”

The plan is to start building engines for the 2026 season. Formula 1 has big changes to the technical regulations in the works for that season that will include not just more electrification for the hybrid-powered cars, but to increase the use of sustainable fuels. Joining along with a rules change also helps balance the field for Audi since they won’t be dumped in amongst already well-developed engines.

The focus for Audi will be as a power unit supplier, what F1 calls engine builders. So they’re not going to be building their own car for the series. The Audi power unit will be developed at Audi Sport’s Competence Center Motorsport in Neuberg an der Donau, near company HQ.

That will make it the first German-built F1 powertrain in more than a decade, Audi points out, a clear jab at Mercedes. That dominating team’s AMG power units are designed and built in Brixton, in the UK, which has been building top-tier race motors since 1995.

The move means Audi will be dropping its LMDh project. That’s its endurance racer for events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Audi Sport will carry on in the Dakar Rally and will maintain its customer racing sports car development.

Now all that’s left is Audi’s choice of team to partner with. There are quite a few possibilities, with just four current suppliers to the 10 teams. Mercedes and Ferrari are out of the mix, and Porsche is expected to pair with Red Bull Racing for 2026. That leaves Mercedes supplied teams including McLaren, Williams, and Aston Martin as possibilities, as well as Ferrari teams Alfa Romeo and Haas. Alpha Tauri is seen as too closely paired with Red Bull to deviate suppliers.

Top of the rumour mill are McLaren and Alfa Romeo, with the latter getting the attention this week. Alfa Romeo’s F1 efforts are actually run by Sauber Motorsport, which has been in F1 since 1993. The two are expected to announce a parting of ways after the 2023 season.

Enough of the rumours, Audi says it will make an official announcement by the end of the year. It’s too early to say what impacts this could have on driver lineups, as four years in F1 is an eternity.

 

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