Audi’s confirmation came on Friday morning, ahead of the start of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, after the FIA last week approved the rules for the next power unit cycle that will start in 2026.
Audi’s entry is the Volkswagen Group’s first big step into F1 from 2026. From that season, its sister brand Porsche will also join the grid through a partnership with Red Bull.
Audi will develop its new power unit at its headquarters in Neuburg, and Adam Baker will lead the project. They already have test benches for F1 engines and plans are being drawn up to increase the staff and infrastructure for the Audi F1 project by the end of the year.
“Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA,” said Audi Board Chairman 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 an engine of innovation and technology transfer in our industry.”
“With the new rules, now is the right time to get in. After all, Formula 1 and Audi are pursuing clear sustainability goals.”
Audi said in its announcement that later this year it will decide which team it will join, but it is assumed that it will work with Sauber.
Motorsport.com reported earlier this week that an agreement had been reached between Audi and Sauber for the latter to take a stake in the team and give it an official team-level endorsement, something Sauber has not enjoyed since BMW left F1 at the end of 2009.
Audi’s arrival comes after many years in which there was talk of its entry into F1, during which the brand has focused its efforts on sports car racing and, until the end of the 2020-21 season, on Formula E.
This is a huge boost for F1, which has seen its popularity increase in recent years, while also increasing its appeal to other manufacturers, helped by the category’s commitment to using sustainable fuels.
“I am delighted to welcome Audi to Formula 1, an iconic, pioneering and technologically innovative automotive brand,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
“This is an important moment for our sport, which highlights the enormous strength we have as a global platform that continues to grow. It is also a great recognition and a sign that our move to sustainable fuel hybrid engines in 2026 is a solution for the future of the automotive sector.”
“We are all looking forward to seeing the Audi logo on the grid and will hear more details about their plans in due course.”
Audi and Porsche were waiting for plans for the FIA’s new engines to be approved before making their entry into F1 official.
While Porsche has always focused on a deal with Red Bull with a 50% stake in the team, Audi explored options with several teams, including McLaren and Williams, before settling on Sauber, which operates under the Alfa Romeo name.
Alfa Romeo has a long-term partnership with Sauber that is reviewed annually, but its CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato, told Motorsport.com that he was “not blind” to Audi’s interest. Alfa Romeo has enjoyed the sponsorship rights to Sauber’s programme since 2018, but the team is powered by Ferrari engines.
Now that Audi’s entry is official, Porsche looks set to follow suit in the coming days by announcing its plans with Red Bull, meaning F1’s two worst-kept secrets would finally be a public issue.