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‘The project has really taken off’ – Audi reveal plans to test new F1 engine by end of the year

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Audi at Auto Shanghai 2023

Audi have provided an update on the busy preparations behind their upcoming Formula 1 entry as part of a presentation at the Auto Shanghai exhibition, with key stakeholders in attendance.

Audi announced at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix that they will join the F1 grid when new engine regulations – featuring increased electrical power and 100% sustainable fuels – are introduced for the 2026 season.

READ MORE: Sauber to become Audi works F1 team from 2026

Shortly afterwards, the German manufacturer set out plans to join forces with Sauber in a move that will see the Swiss operation – currently racing as Alfa Romeo and using Ferrari power units – become their works outfit.

While behind-the-scenes efforts gather pace, Audi headed to China to present the project in the Asian market, taking their launch livery showcar along for the journey and unveiling the motto ‘F1 Power made in Germany’.

In an accompanying press release, Audi confirmed that their first full hybrid drivetrain unit, comprising a combustion engine, electric motor, battery and electronic control unit, is scheduled to run on the test bench before the end of this year – forming the basis for the future vehicle concept.

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Audi’s eye-catching launch livery as seen on an F1 showcar

There are also plans for the dynamic development simulator at Audi’s Neuburg facility to be brought up to F1 standards and “further advance the development of the Audi power unit”.

Meanwhile, the newly-formed Audi Formula Racing GmbH division now boasts more than 260 specialists, with the core of the development team featuring experienced Audi Sport and Audi employees who hold diverse expertise in electric motorsport.

READ MORE: Sauber declare ‘important milestone’ as Audi acquire minority stake ahead of F1 entry

Existing employees are being joined by F1 specialists who were sourced externally to strengthen the team, with Audi expecting the hiring process to be completed by the end of the year and staff numbers to have reached more than 300.

Alongside this, Audi’s Competence Center Motorsport will be expanded for the F1 project, including the installation of additional test rigs in a new building with a floor area of around 3,000 square metres – a modular design allowing them to be put into operation before the space is fully finished in early 2024.

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Audi CEO Markus Duesmann during the Audi press conference at Auto Shanghai 2023

“Motorsport is an integral part of our DNA,” said Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, at Auto Shanghai.

“We are convinced that our Formula 1 commitment will strengthen Audi’s sporting focus. The racing series is continuously increasing its global reach, especially among young target groups and in our most important sales market: China.”

BARRETTO: How Sauber are preparing for Audi’s arrival – and keeping the pressure on in the midfield battle

Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG, added: “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.

“After all, efficiency is a key success factor for Formula 1 and the mobility of the future, [and] these approaches will advance both worlds.”

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