Audi says it will confirm the identity of the Formula 1 team it is going to invest in before the end of 2022, and has explained why its power unit program will be completely separate from Porsche’s planned entry.
The two Volkswagen Group brands have been investigating Formula 1 involvement for some time, with Audi finally confirming on Friday at the Belgian Grand Prix that it will join as a power unit manufacturer from 2026 onwards. At this stage the German company has not announced which team it will supply, but RACER understands an investment in Sauber is the most likely partnership.
“There are fantastic chassis partners on the grid and we did talk to several,” Audi AG chairman Markus Duesmann said. “We will inform you when we decide.
“The long lead is the powertrain, so we had to decide on the power unit and that’s what we announced today. The decision on the team we will do within this year and depending on the team it will be a different way of engagement from our side, so we haven’t decided how the team will look, but we will inform you as soon as possible.”
The announcement of Audi’s arrival comes before confirmation of Porsche’s plans, although the latter is poised to enter into a partnership with Red Bull.
“You know, we raced Porsche at Le Mans, with completely separate operations, and in this case we will have completely separate operations,” Duesmann explained. “We will have our operations in Germany and if Porsche enters they will have their operations in the UK — completely separate.
“You can imagine that was a huge discussion, but both our brands have a lot of fans, and both our brands have their special character. That’s why we decided to keep it completely separate and do two operations.
“There’s several reasons, several different teams. The powertrain has to be designed specially for the chassis, and that’s why we decided to split it, as we will have completely different chassis, so completely different powertrains.”
Duesmann’s point was emphasized by Oliver Hoffmann, the Audi board member for technical development, who says the scale of the task also played a part in both brands focusing on their own programs.
“To meet the timetable, the powertrain and the chassis, the cost and time to make it in two cars,” Hoffman noted. “So, completely different operations, and the integration work we will do by ourselves.
“It is really a big challenge to get this work done until 2026. I think we have found some compromises in the regulations that we are able to enter on eye-high with all the other competitors. We love the challenge. We were able to run the Dakar and be able to develop the car — which is also a very complex drivetrain — in less than one year.
“I think we will be able to develop this powertrain until 2026 and thanks to FIA, thanks to Formula 1, to find a way with a huge step forward in terms of sustainability and a clear focus on an electrified powertrain. We have a lot of competencies for electrified drivetrains in Neuburg and so I think we will be on this stage in 2026.”