Audi And Sauber Team Up To Enter Formula 1 in 2026

Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG (right), and Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development of AUDI AG

As reported in August, Audi will participate in the Formula 1 World Championship from 2026, the first time that the German carmaker is doing so. Audi will have Sauber as its strategic partner and plans to acquire a stake in the Sauber Group. The partnership will see the traditional Swiss racing team competing as an official factory team, using the power unit developed by Audi.

Development of the power unit, which consists of an electric motor, battery, control systems and a combustion engine, has already begun at the facility of the newly formed Audi Formula Racing GmbH in Germany. More than 120 employees are already working on the project.

While the power unit will be created at Audi’s Motorsport Competence Centre, Sauber will develop and manufacture the racing car at its site in Switzerland. It will also be responsible for planning and executing the race operations.

“Sauber is a first-class partner for the use of the Audi Power Unit,” said Adam Baker, Managing Director of Audi Formula Racing. “We are looking forward to working with an experienced team that has helped shape many eras of Formula 1 history. Together, we want to write the next chapter starting in 2026.”

The timetable up to the first race in the 2026 season is ambitious. The expansion of the facility in terms of personnel, buildings and technical infrastructure should be largely in place in 2023. The first tests with the power unit developed for the 2026 regulations in a Formula 1 test car are planned for 2025. Of course, working under such pressure is not new to Audi as it also had a short time for the  development of its all-electric rallycar for the Dakar Rally.

Formula 1 is taking a big step towards sustainability with the new regulations that will come into effect from 2026. This was an important prerequisite for Audi to decide to enter the championship. The power units will be more efficient than they are today, as the proportion of electric power will increase significantly.

Audi F1

The electric drivetrain will then have nearly as much power as the internal combustion engine, which comes to 400 kW (544 bhp). The highly efficient 1.6-litre turbocharged engines will be powered by sustainable synthetic fuel that is CO2-neutral (according to EU standards). Formula 1 has also set itself the goal of being CO2-neutral as a racing series by 2030.

Sauber was founded in 1970 by Peter Sauber and has been involved in various motorsports, including F1. Malaysians would also be familiar with the name as Sauber formed a joint venture with Petronas in 1996 to supply engines for the Sauber F1 team. Sauber Petronas Engineering, situated in Switzerland, was also involved in high performance engine development (Petronas E01) with Proton at one stage as well as motorcycle engines (PETRONAS GP1, Malaysia’s first prototype motorcycle racing engine).

The PETRONAS E01e 4-cylinder engine that was developed in the late 1990s by Sauber Petronas Engineering. It had a 2-litre displacement and could produce around 204 ps/203 Nm. The engine was intended for Proton’s use but that never happened as the carmaker preferred to use its own CAMPRO engine.

“We are delighted to have gained such an experienced and competent partner for our ambitious Formula 1 project,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board for Technical Development at Audi AG. “We already know the Sauber Group with its state-of-the-art facility and experienced team from previous collaborations and are convinced that together we will form a strong team.”