Audi have used the Auto Shanghai motor exhibition to showcase their F1 project, which is scheduled for launch in the 2026 season – and announced that they aim to be testing their engine before the end of the year.
Speaking at the event, Audi’s CEO Markus Duesmann described motorsport as integral to the company’s DNA and explained how he believes that entering the F1 arena will help strengthen further the company’s sporting focus.
Oliver Hoffmann, a Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi was left, on audi-mediacenter.com, to offer more details on the project and how far down the line the company is with its development of the car for 2026.
“The Audi Formula 1 project has really taken off in recent months. In the ongoing concept phase of the power unit, the foundation of our drivetrain for 2026 is being laid today. We attach great importance to detail work, for example on materials or manufacturing technologies, and we also focus on topics such as the energy management of the hybrid drivetrain."
Team effort as top drivers targeted
"The first full hybrid drivetrain unit, consisting of the combustion engine, electric motor, battery and electronic control unit, is scheduled to run on the test bench before the end of this year and will form the basis for the future vehicle concept," a press release added.
In addition to the technology, the company is also progressing in terms of putting together a team capable of delivering the project. Under the title of Audi Formula Racing GmbH, they have compiled a workforce of 260 at their Neuburg facility, known as the Competence Center Motorsport, made up of experienced Audi and Audi Sport employees with a background in electric motorsport and some externally acquired Formula 1 experts. By the end of the year, they expect the team to be complete and number more than 300.
No drivers have yet been locked in, with the 2026 launch date still some way off, but some names have been thrown around – including a possible late-career comeback for former world champion Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz reportedly top of Andreas Seidl's list, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.
Mick Schumacher has also been linked although this was recently denied by Audi Group CEO Markus Duesmann.
Alongside the new team which is being put together, the Neuburg facility is in the process of being upgraded and expanded to make it F1-ready. In the second half of 2023 they plan to build new test rigs designed to aid the development in their power unit and expand the floor area of the facility to around 3,000 square meters.
The FIA, according to Audi, are happy with what they see, in particular with regard to their green credentials, and have already awarded them a three-star seal of approval, their the highest distinction for environmental conservation and sustainability.
Three years it may still be until we see the Audi F1 car in action but the signs are promising, their commitment to the project is unquestionable and the livery looks good.
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