Volkswagen’s chief executive, Herbert Diess, has confirmed Audi and Porsche will enter Formula 1 in 2026.
Diess indicated Porsche’s plans were a little more certain at this early stage – which may well mean them linking up with Red Bull for an engine programme.
Since last summer when they both became involved in talks over F1’s next generation of engines from 2026, Audi and Porsche, who are both part of the Volkswagen group, have been increasingly linked with joining the grid.
Unofficial confirmation occurred in early April, as reported by Reuters, who are now attributing the official word to chief executive Diess in a YouTube video.
There were not, however, any specific details from the 63-year-old Munich-born Austrian national, although Reuters reported that Porsche “intends to establish a long-term partnership with Red Bull starting in several years’ time”, which will essentially mean 2026.
Reuters are also sticking to their story from March that Audi have put a bid of 500 million euros (£418million) on the table for the McLaren team which, if accepted, would enable them to enter Formula 1 as a constructor rather than simply as an engine manufacturer.
Zak Brown, the McLaren Racing CEO, said in January the team was “definitely not for sale” but that “very preliminary” talks with Volkswagen had taken place.
However, McLaren are not the only potential option if Audi are keen to buy an existing team rather than set one up from scratch.
Sauber, operators of the Alfa Romeo-branded team, were close to being sold to Andretti Autosport last autumn and already have connections to Audi whose Le Mans car was developed in the wind tunnel at Hinwil.
Jan Monchaux, technical director of the Alfa Romeo team, used to work in a similar capacity at Audi.
It is also feasible that Williams’ owners Dorilton Capital could be interested in a deal.
It was claimed recently by former driver Ralf Schumacher that Aston Martin F1 owner Lawrence Stroll may even have already begun talks with the Volkswagen Group regarding an Audi takeover of his team.
The reported confirmation about Audi and Porsche comes less than a week since the Formula 1 Commission discussed the 2026 engine regulations, with the FIA revealing “six preliminary targets” for the power units which had been “well received” by those at the meeting.
The proposed 2026 engine rules are set to be voted on in July and the certainty of the two VW brands entering the sport would be a key step in that process.