The German carmaker has finally confirmed its F1 entry for 2026 at the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday, revealing that it would be designing and manufacturing its own power unit from its base at Neuburg. It is set to tie up with Sauber, but no final announcement has been made about that plan.
Audi’s decision to make its own power unit has sparked some intrigue as sister manufacturer Porsche, which is expected to announce its involvement with Red Bull in the next few weeks, will link up with the Milton Keynes-based squad to run its own engine. too.
It means that parent company VW will have to finance two separate engine development programs – which will be far more expensive than them sharing designs and rebasing them.
Speaking about the decision to have separate projects, the board of Audi president Markus Deusmann said that there were long discussions within the company about whether or not to join engine resources with Porsche.
However, in the end, he said, the need to optimize power units for individual teams prompted the call from Audi to do its own thing.
“You can imagine there was a huge discussion,” he said. “But we decided, because both of our brands have a lot of fans and both of our brands have their special character, to keep it completely separate and make two operations.
“We had several reasons [for that]. We will have different teams, and the power train must be designed especially for the chassis. That’s why we decided to separate it, because we will have completely different chassis and completely different powertrains.”
Oliver Hoffmann, head of Audi technical development, added: “To meet the schedule, the integration work of the electrified side on the powertrain, together with the chassis, costs time to do it in two cars. So it’s completely different operations, and the integration work, we will do by ourselves.”
Showcar with Audi F1 launch livery
Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport
Audi is well behind other manufacturers such as Mercedes and Ferrari in its understanding of F1’s turbo-hybrid rules, so has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to be competitive from 2026 onwards.
However, the car company believes that the way new rules have been framed, to give more freedoms to new entrants, should allow it to catch up in time.
Hoffmann added: “First of all, it’s a really big challenge to do this work [by] 2026.
“But I think we’re finding some compromises with the rules that we can get into [equal terms] with all other competitors. And we love the challenge.
“We were able to run the Dakar, and develop the Dakar car, which is also a very complex drive, in less than a year. And I think we will be able to develop this powertrain by 2026 as well.”
Deusmann said: “Well, it’s clear that we are in a moment where we are. And the others have powers that are already working. But the changes in the rules were big enough for us to see an opportunity to step in and be competitive.”