German carmaker Audi will become Formula One’s engine supplier for the first time in the 2026 season, chairman Markus Dussmann announced on Friday.
Audi will announce the team they will supply before the end of the year, although many expect it to be Sauber, which currently races as a Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo.
The announcement was made at Spa Francorchamps, venue of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, with Formula One president and CEO Stefan Domenicali and Mohammed bin Sulaiem, president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), motorsport’s governing body, in attendance.
“Formula 1 is both a global stage for our brand and a highly sophisticated development laboratory,” Duesmann said in a statement.
The engine will be developed at Audi Sport’s plant in Neuburg, near Ingolstadt, and the company says it will be “the first time in more than a decade that a Formula 1 powerplant has been built in Germany.”
Adam Baker, who spent three years at the FIA before joining Audi in 2021, will take over the company and the Formula 1 project as CEO.
Audi added in a statement that Formula 1’s stated goals of becoming more sustainable attracted them.
Their decision comes shortly after the FIA World Motor Sport Council agreed that new engines or power units (PUs) will be required in Formula 1 by 2026 for greater sustainability.
The new engines will increase electric power by up to 50% and will use 100% environmentally friendly fuel.
“World-renowned, highly emotional and technologically advanced – this is how Formula 1 met Audi’s exact requirements,” the statement said.
“The key to being part of the world’s most popular racing series is a solid plan to become more sustainable and cost-effective.
“The new technical regulations, which will apply from 2026, focus on more electrification and modern sustainable fuels.
“In addition to the existing spending cap for teams, a spending cap for powertrain manufacturers will be introduced in 2023.
“Furthermore, Formula One has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming a carbon-neutral racing series by 2030.”
Formula 1 president Stefano Domenciali hailed Audi’s decision as “an important event for our sport”.
– “Two separate programs” –
Audi also sees huge potential with Formula 1 to sell more cars around the world.
“The great interest in Formula 1 is global and the racing series is one of the biggest sporting events in the world,” they said.
“In 2021, more than 1.5 billion TV viewers watched the races.
“Formula 1 is popular in key markets such as China and the US, and this trend continues to grow – even among younger target groups.”
Audi competed in the European Championship before the Second World War, which was the beginning of Formula 1, which started after the war.
Audi and three other German car manufacturers formed the Auto Union company.
They enjoyed their most successful campaign in 1936, with Bernd Rosemeyer winning three of the four races to take the title, with team-mate Hans Stuck second.
Porsche is also expected to follow in the footsteps of “stable partner” Audi and is believed to be interested in acquiring up to 50% of the Austrian team Red Bull, based in England – for which world champion Max Verstappen races.
“It would be two separate programs,” Dusman said.
“We (Audi) are going to have our infrastructure in Germany and if Porsche is involved, they will have their infrastructure in the United Kingdom.”
Porsche, unlike Audi, raced in Formula 1.
They had the team from 1957-62, although they only raced for two full seasons in 1961/62 – their only victory being Dan Gurney’s 1962 French Grand Prix.
They returned to the track in 1983, providing engines for the McLaren team, and enjoyed great success with McLaren winning two consecutive constructors’ championships in 1984 and 1985.
McLaren ditched them for Honda in 1988 and Porsche’s last contribution to F1 was a brief return in 1991 with the Footwork team.
However, after a disastrous first part of the season, Footwork switched to Ford engines.
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