Audi have set an ambitious goal of being amongst the leaders within three years of their Formula 1 project getting underway.
The German car manufacturer has already acquired a stake in Sauber with a view of turning the Swiss outfit into Audi’s works team from 2026 onwards and even though there are three seasons of F1 between now and then, work has already begun on their future entry.
The chassis for the car will be built at Sauber’s Hinwil base while the power unit is being made by Audi in Neuburg, Germany with the team breaking ground on a 3,000 square metre addition to their base last year.
Given Audi are joining an existing outfit, they are not starting from scratch in terms of their Formula 1 car but even still, CEO of Audi Formula Racing Adam Baker says their aim is to be fighting at the top of the grid by year three.
“We want to keep improving.” Baker told Sport Bild. “Our goal is to be among the front runners in the third year. For that we need a top engine. We want to show what ‘Made in Germany’ stands for: a reliable power unit at the highest level.
“We are super proud that there is once again a German location for participation in Formula 1.”
Although Germany has had great success in F1 of late through Mercedes, the Silver Arrows car and engine are made in the UK, with the last German power unit in F1 coming in 2009 with BMW.
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Saying you want a top team and achieving it are two separate things though and Baker is hoping that because Audi has racing pedigree in other series, then that knowledge should be able to transfer.
“Of course, we have a knowledge gap when it comes to developing a Formula 1 engine,” he said. “We have to catch up – but we have enough time and a super experienced team on board, I’m just thinking of the very successful DTM time, the Formula E commitment or our Le Mans era.
“Nevertheless, in the first season it will be important that we have the highest possible reliability.”
Audi will be one of at least six power unit suppliers on the grid from 2026 with the FIA recently confirming the entry list for engine manufacturers.
Audi joins the established Alpine/Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes while Red Bull will be amongst them under the new guise of Red Bull Ford Powertrains.
Honda, having chosen to leave the sport in 2021, announced their return in 2026 but as of yet have not confirmed which team they will supply power units to.