The German car giant will join the F1 grid as an engine supplier ahead of an expected tie-up with Sauber, which currently races under the Alfa Romeo moniker.
Audi’s entry was confirmed on the eve of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix during a press conference on Friday morning that was attended by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali, as well as Audi CEO Markus Duesmann.
The Volkswagen Group’s plans to enter F1 through their Audi and Porsche brands has been one of motorsport’s worst kept secrets, but final approval of new power unit regulations for 2026 paved the way for a formal announcement.
F1’s new-generation hybrid engines will retain the current 1.6 litre V6s but have significantly increased electrical power and move to fully sustainable fuels.
The MGU-H component will be dropped, a move which was understood to be a pre-requisite for the VW Group brands to enter.
Stefano Domenicali, F1 president and CEO, said: “I am delighted to welcome Audi to Formula 1, an iconic automotive brand, pioneer and technological innovator.
“This is a major moment for our sport that highlights the huge strength we have as a global platform that continues to grow.
“It is also a big recognition that our move to sustainably fuelled hybrid engines in 2026 is a future solution for the automotive sector. We are all looking forward to seeing the Audi logo on the grid and will be hearing further details from them on their plans in due course.”
Audi’s power unit will be constructed out of Neuburg in Germany, with Adam Barker leading the project.
"Racing and motorsport is in the DNA of Audi," said Duesmann. "Audi has always been active and been successful in motor racing, and if you think about Le Mans or rally Dakar that we do now, DTM and Formula E, we have always been very active and very successful.
"We want to continue this success story now in Formula 1 and I think it’s perfect timing due to the new rules that are established now for us to enter F1.
"There are many aspects. We have decided to be a fully electric car manufacturer and F1 changed the rules in a way that we can enter with a very high electric part of the powertrain, with renewable fuels and Formula 1 have installed a cost cap that makes it very attractive for us to enter now.”
An official announcement regarding Audi’s partner team is expected before the end of 2022, but the German manufacturer is reportedly in the process of buying a majority stake in Sauber.
Red Bull-Porsche delay
Porsche are also set to enter F1 from 2026 in partnership with Red Bull, but the announcement has been pushed back.
Confirmation of Red Bull and Porsche’s plans have been anticipated for weeks, but there has still been no official news despite F1’s 2026 engine rules being given the green light.
Legal documents that emerged last month revealed that Porsche is in the process of buying into the Red Bull operation to develop a new engine in partnership with the F1 team’s newly-devised powertrains division.