One of F1's worst-kept secrets has finally and officially been confirmed as Audi is to make its F1 breakthrough in 2026 as a power unit supplier.
The German manufacturing giant, which has enjoyed considerable success in sports cars over the years, most notably Le Mans, has long been rumoured to be joining F1.
The recent confirmation of the new power unit regulations for 2026 has now allowed Audi to formally declare at a press conference at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix that it will enter F1 in four years' time.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali 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 has been strongly linked with the Sauber team that currently races as Alfa Romeo but Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of
AUDI AG, would not be drawn on a potential chassis partner.
On this topic, the manufacturer said: "Audi will announce a decision on which team they will be lining up with in 2026 by the end of this year."
Duesmann added: “Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA.
“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 a driver of innovation and technology transfer in our industry.
"With the new rules, now is the right time for us to get involved. After all, Formula 1 and Audi both pursue clear sustainability goals.”
Audi to "support" F1 transformation
The new power unit regulations will see a greater electrical element as well as the use of fully sustainable fuels and it is these changes that have enabled Audi to make its announcement.
“In view of the major technological leaps that the series is making towards sustainability in 2026, we can speak of a new Formula 1," said Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board for Technical Development.
"Formula 1 is transforming, and Audi wants to actively support this journey. A close link between our Formula 1 project and AUDI AG’s Technical Development department will enable synergies."