The German car manufacturer Audi has announced they will enter Formula One in 2026 when new engine regulations are introduced. The manufacturer has only announced they will be making engines, but are expected to work with Sauber, currently racing under the name Alfa Romeo.
The news of the Volkswagen group entering Audi and Porsche into the sport has been growing for years since the sport started discussing the 2026 engine regulations which were finalised earlier in August. Audi has not yet revealed whether it will run its own team, as is expected, or simply supply engines.
Markus Duesmann, chairman of the Audi board, said on Friday that the German car company had officially registered as a power-unit manufacturer in F1. Duesmann said “Racing is in the DNA of Audi. If you think about Le Mans, DTM and Formula E, we have always been very active and very successful. We want to continue this success story in F1.”
Audi is expected to take a controlling stake in Sauber, currently racing as Alfa Romeo, and enter as a full manufacturer in the manner of Ferrari and Mercedes. They had been linked to McLaren, but a deal couldn’t be reached.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “This is a major moment for our sport that highlights the huge strength we have as a global platform that continues to grow. 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.”
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem described the decision as “a milestone”.
Explaining the decision to enter the sport, Duesmann said the increased proportion of power from the hybrid part of the engine matched with Audi’s decision to move towards being a fully electric manufacturer.
He added that F1’s budget cap, first introduced in 2021, “makes it very attractive” and that F1’s decision to go carbon neutral by 2030 was also key.
The new engine regulation will continue with the 1.6-litre turbo hybrid engines, but the hybrid element will be scraped. Instead, new sustainable, synthetic fuels will used, as the sport looks to reach carbon natural by 2030, These emit only the carbon taken out of the atmosphere to make them.
The news means that the regulation changes have met one of their targets in attracting new manufacturers, building on the growth seen since the launch of Netflix Drive to Survive in 2018.
Audi will develop its new power unit out of its Neuburg site, with its operations being led by Adam Baker. There are already test benches in place for F1 engines, and plans are being put together to expand the personnel and infrastructure for the Audi F1 project by the end of the year.
Its German rival Daimler, operating under the brand Mercedes, have dominated under the current regulations with them winning eight constructors and seven drivers titles. VW has not previously been in F1, though, worked with Red Bull in the world rally championship.
Another VW brand, Porsche, is also expected to enter F1 in 2026 as an engine partner to Red Bull. Duesmann would not confirm that, but said that the two operations would be entirely separate, with Audi’s operation in Germany and Porsche’s in the UK if it entered.