Audi F1 reveal the first driver to join their Formula 1 project ahead of 2026 entry

Jamie Woodhouse
Audi F1's Showcar, April 2023.

Audi's F1 showcar ahead of the manufacturer's 2026 entry in collaboration with Sauber.

Audi have made their first move on the driver front for their Formula 1 project, with Neel Jani coming on board to aid development of the Audi power unit.

The German brand will enter the Formula 1 scene as of the 2026 campaign, having struck a deal to partner with Sauber Motorsport to transform their team, currently operating as Alfa Romeo, into the Audi works squad.

As part of that link-up, the team will also use the Audi power unit, being developed for the new Formula 1 PU regulations which will come into force as of that season.

Work is very much underway on that first Audi PU, and Jani will bring his extensive motorsport experience to the table as the former Le Mans winner puts in the simulator work to aid development.

A former test and reserve driver for Red Bull Racing, Audi say they are taking the “next step” in the development of their F1 power unit by bringing Jani into the project, while an update is also underway to the dynamic driving simulator at Audi’s Neuburg base.

“I am delighted to accompany Audi on their way into Formula 1,” said Jani.

“It is both an honour and a great responsibility to be involved in a project of this magnitude at an early stage. I am sure that with my experience from Formula 1 and LMP projects I can forge good links between theory and practice.” recommends

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Oliver Hoffmann, member of the board of management for technical development of AUDI AG, added: “Just like in production development, simulation plays a major role in our Formula 1 project.

“Our simulator is an important tool for the power unit development. It requires a development driver who in addition to a grasp of technology brings versatile experience to the project, especially in terms of energy management in racing conditions.”

Adam Baker, CEO of Audi Formula Racing GmbH, explained that the current focus from Audi on their power unit relates to the setting the performance-relevant foundations.

“At the moment, we are mainly focused on fundamental concept questions with high relevance to performance,” said Baker.

“However, in evaluating various technical solutions we rely not only on digital methods. Know-how, experience and practically relevant development are indispensable elements of drawing the right conclusions from the simulation.

“With that combination, we can assess various operating strategies at an early stage and pave the way for efficient energy management of the power unit.”

Audi plan to run their first full power unit on the testing bench before the end of 2023.