The German carmaker finally confirmed its F1 entry for 2026 at the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday, revealing it would design and manufacture its own powerplant from its base in Neuburg. It is set to work with Sauber, but no final announcement has yet been made about that plan.
Audi’s decision to make its own power unit has sparked some intrigue as sister manufacturer Porsche, expected to announce its entry into Red Bull in the coming weeks, will work with the Milton Keynes-based team to run its own engine. at.
It means parent company VW will have to fund two separate engine development programs – which will be much more expensive than sharing designs and redesigning them.
Speaking about the decision to have separate projects, Audi’s board chairman Markus Deusmann said there had been lengthy discussions within the company about whether or not to pool engine resources with Porsche.
Ultimately, however, he said the need to optimize powertrains for individual teams prompted Audi to do its own thing.
“You can imagine there was a huge discussion,” he said. “But because our two brands have a lot of fans and our two brands have their special character, we decided to keep it completely separate and run two operations.
“We had several reasons [for that]. We will have different teams and the powertrain will have to be designed specifically for the chassis. That’s why we decided to split it up, because we’ll have a completely different chassis and completely different powertrains.”
Oliver Hoffmann, Audi’s head of engineering development, added: “To meet the schedule, the integration work of the electrified side on the powertrain, along with the chassis, it takes time to make it into two cars. So they are completely different operations and we will do the integration work ourselves.”
Showcar with launch colors Audi F1
Photo By: Audi Communications Motorsport
Audi is well behind other manufacturers such as Mercedes and Ferrari in terms of understanding F1’s turbo-hybrid rules, so has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to be competitive from 2026.
However, the car company believes that the way in which new rules have been drafted, in order to give new entrants more freedom, should make it possible to overtake on time.
Hoffmann added: “First of all, getting this work done is a really big challenge [by] 2026.
“But I think we’ll find some compromises with the rules we can make [equal terms] with all other competitors. And we love the challenge.
“We were able to drive the Dakar and develop the Dakar car, which is also a very complex powertrain, in less than a year. And I think we can develop this powertrain in 2026 as well.”
Deusmann said: “Well, clearly we are where we are at the moment. And the others have drivetrains that already work. But the rule changes were big enough for us to see an opportunity to step in and be competitive.”