‘It’s perfect timing due to the new rules’ – Audi boss explains why they joined F1
Audi announced that they will join Formula 1 from 2026 as engine suppliers in a press conference from Spa-Francorchamps – with their CEO Markus Duesmann explaining why the four-ringed marque had made the momentous decision.
The list of Audi motorsport ventures is lengthy, their trophy cabinet bulging with 13 overall Le Mans wins as well as success in rally, touring cars and Formula E. Now they’re hoping to bring that success to Formula 1, as Duesmann explained that the new-for-2026 engine regulations were a major factor in their decision to join the championship.
“Racing, motorsport, is in the DNA of Audi,” he said on Friday at Spa-Francorchamps. “Audi has always been active and been successful in motor racing. If you think about Le Mans, Dakar, DTM, Formula E, we have always been very active and very successful and we want to continue this success story now in Formula 1.
“I think it’s perfect timing due to the new rules that are established now, for us to enter F1. And there are many aspects of F1. We have decided to become a full electric car manufacturer and F1 changed the rules in a way that we can enter with a 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.”
Duesmann explained that the suppliers will develop their power unit from Neuburg, close to their Ingolstadt headquarters.
“Certainly we have to bring them [the facilities] to F1 standards. That takes long, it is already ongoing. We have a fantastic team of people there, motorsport-experienced people, but we also have to hire new people – this takes some time – and as everything will be brand new, that is not long! In less than four years from now, we will be on the grid and racing in F1 races. This is not too long but we are absolutely delighted and really happy to do that.”
Oliver Hoffmann, Audi's Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development, said it wouldn’t be “realistic” to expect Audi’s powertrains to win instantly – but maintained that the storied manufacturer was already embracing the challenge of competing with Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault’s power units.
“I feel that [winning straight away is] not realistic – it would be ideal. But we certainly have a plan, internally, what we want to do, but ideally within the first three years we should be very competitive," said Hoffmann.
“Yes, it’s not a long way till 2026, we have to speed up, and I’m really happy to announce it today and then we can officially work on the powertrain. I love the challenge.”
As a result of Audi’s massive announcement, Formula 1 will have at least five engine manufacturers from 2026, when a new era of sustainable, world-leading power units will be unveiled. F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali explained why Friday marked an “incredible moment” for the championship.
“Actually, it’s a great day for the sport. When there is a new journey starting, you see the emotion of the people involved – the positive emotion. It’s a journey that in a way started many years ago and personally I’m happy to see that now it’s coming to real life.
“It’s even an incredible moment today. This is another step into the growth of what Formula 1 represents, in terms of leadership, innovation, sport entertainment, and great technical challenges. I think that hybridisation with sustainable fuel is a direction that will enable manufacturers and teams to work very hard to keep the highest standard in terms of new ideas.
“Thanks to the FIA... we are [aligned] to allow actual manufacturers, to allow other competitors. That’s the beauty of the sport, that’s the beauty of F1 today.
“It’s a showcase of what Formula 1 can present to newcomers, but also we have a lot of respect... for the ones that have invested in Formula 1 for many years. It’s a journey that we have started together, discussions, compromises in order to find the best solution for everyone. It’s a great moment today.”