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Audi Sport partnership with Sauber confirmed for 2026 Formula 1 season

Audi will join the sport as an engine supplier from 2026, teaming up with Sauber following Alfa Romeo's exit

Audi Sport has confirmed it'll enter a strategic partnership with Sauber when it joins the F1 grid in 2026. Audi's involvement in F1 was arguably the worst kept secret in motorsport, so having already confirmed that it'll join Formula 1 as a powertrain supplier from 2026 earlier in the summer, confirmation of its tie-up with Sauber was the last piece of the puzzle.

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As part of the deal, Sauber will be responsible for the development and manufacturing of the racing car at its Swiss headquarters, as well as the planning and execution of race operations. “Audi is the best partner for the Sauber Group,” says Finn Rausing, Chairman of Sauber Holding. “It is clear that both companies share the same values and vision. We are looking forward to achieving our common goals with a strong and successful partnership.”

Audi's decision to go single seater racing and ditch its LMDh World Endurance Championship plans was down to the new Formula 1 technical regulations that come into force from the 2026 season. 

“In view of the major technological leaps that the series is making towards sustainability in 2026, we can speak of a new Formula 1. Formula 1 is transforming, and Audi wants to actively support this journey,” explains Oliver Hoffmann, board member for technical development at Audi AG. 

Earlier this year Formula 1 and the FIA ratified the 2026 engine regulations, which will see the electric motors produce in the region of 550bhp, nearly as much as the 1.6-litre turbo engines produce. The combustion engine will also have to run on carbon-neutral sustainable fuels, another key change that helped persuade Audi to invest in the sport. 

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A new subsidiary has been created within Audi Sport to design, develop and build its F1 power unit at the team’s headquarters in Neuburg an der Donau. Although before work can begin there is the small matter of redeveloping the site to accommodate the infrastructure required by taking on such an undertaking. Audi’s new engine will be the first German built F1 engine for over a decade since BMW left the sport. Mercedes’s all conquering F1 power units are built in Brixworth, in Northamptonshire. 

Audi’s Formula 1 project will be headed by Adam Baker, who until recently worked at the FIA for three years as Safety Director. The manufacturer will announce which team it will supply by the end of the 2022 season, although with Alfa Romeo announcing it will end its agreement with Sauber at the end of the 2023 season, it doesn't take a genius to work out which team will carry the Audi branding. 

Audi’s announcement comes after years of speculation that it would enter F1 following its domination in sportscar racing, but its entry was vetoed by the late Ferdinand Piëch who had no time for the sport or those running it. But following his death in 2019 and the metronomic rise in F1’s global popularity off the back of the Netflix docu-soap Drive to Survive, the VW Group board has been pushing hard for one or more of its brands to join motorsport’s biggest race series. 

In contrast to Audi’s success in organising its participation in F1, Porsche’s planned entry into the sport has been completely derailed after negotiations with Red Bull broke down over the summer. Porsche is still optimistic about entering F1 in 2026, but its available pathways are quickly disappearing. Still, the VW Group has one confirmed entry, and with the significant investment Audi Sport is ready to pump into the team could Sauber back at the pointy end of the F1 field, only this time with an Audi badge on the nosecone. 

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