Allan McNish on the ‘hectic’ scenes at Audi as they prepare to enter F1

Sam Cooper
Audi livery. August 2022.

The Audi livery on a Formula 1 show car. August 2022.

British racer Allan McNish has described the scenes at Audi as “hectic” as the German car giant prepares for their Formula 1 entry.

Audi announced their official entry for 2026 in October 2022 with an agreement to purchase Sauber’s F1 outfit, who currently run under the Alfa Romeo brand.

Sauber will be Audi’s “strategic partner” as the four-ringed constructor enters a works team for the first time.

Work is now underway to get the brand ready for its entry in 2026 and one man who is up-to-date with the latest going-ons is McNish.

The 53-year-old has long been associated with the Audi brand having driven for them in events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and was the team’s Formula E team principal until 2020.

On the team’s new F1 venture, McNish described the scenes as “hectic” and unlike anything he had ever seen before.

“I’d say it’s been a busy, very busy last 18 months,” he told the Motorsport Magazine podcast. “Certainly 2022 has been pretty hectic, like I’ve never seen before.

“And to think that ’26 is still quite a long way away, but it’s only around the corner. It’s 39 months until the first race, not that we’re counting, but yes, from being involved now for over 20 years with Audi, this is part of that progression.

“It’s an exciting time and I don’t think there’s anybody within the company that’s not looking forward to that first race in 2026.”

Given his background with Audi as well as a season in Formula 1 with Toyota in 2002, the Scotsman seems in the perfect place to help Audi and has been describing the difference between a Le Mans programme and one in F1.

“With Toyota, it was Le Mans and then jumping into Formula One, it was a completely different game, just in terms of the personnel having to multiply by three to be able to produce a Formula 1 programme,” he said.

“Now admittedly, that was 20 years ago. That’s when budgets were unlimited, that’s when engines were unlimited. You would use three engines through the course of a Formula 1 weekend, now you’re looking at that number over a season.

“So there’s a lot of changes. However, what was very clear to me was when I moved from Toyota at the end of 2002, to Renault [for a third driver role], my first ever lap was quicker than my qualifying lap in the Toyota.

“So the difference between people that are fighting in the middle to where you’re fighting for race victories is a huge gulf. I don’t think anybody can underestimate that sort of level and now I think it’s even more so in Formula 1 at the top.”

Read more: F1 rumours – Early details emerge on Ferrari and Red Bull 2023 cars