Audi is presenting its Formula 1 project in China for the first time from April 18 to 27: The F1 show car with the striking Audi Launch Livery is a central element of the brand’s presence at Auto Shanghai. Audi CEO Markus Duesmann has provided insight into the current progress of the project during the press conference.
Under the motto “F1 Power made in Germany” the company is preparing to enter the top class of motorsport. From 2026, Audi will compete in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship with its own factory team and a power unit developed in Germany. “Motorsport is an integral part of our DNA,” said Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, at Auto Shanghai. “We are convinced that our Formula 1 commitment will strengthen Audi’s sporting focus. The racing series is continuously increasing its global reach, especially among young target groups and in our most important sales market: China.” The Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit could not take place for a fourth consecutive time due to the pandemic, and this makes him even happier to give Chinese Formula 1 fans a preview of Audi’s future involvement in the top class of motorsport.
“The Audi Formula 1 project has really taken off in recent months,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG. “In the ongoing concept phase of the power unit, the foundation of our drivetrain for 2026 is being laid today. We attach great importance to detail work, for example on materials or manufacturing technologies, and we also focus on topics such as the energy management of the hybrid drivetrain. After all, efficiency is a key success factor for Formula 1 and the mobility of the future, these approaches will advance both worlds,” says Hoffmann.
Valuable insights in the development, for the test bench setup and validation of the measuring instruments are provided by a single-cylinder engine that has been tested since the end of 2022. The first full hybrid drivetrain unit, consisting of the combustion engine, electric motor, battery and electronic control unit, is scheduled to run on the test bench before the end of this year and will form the basis for the future vehicle concept. On top of that, the dynamic development simulator in Neuburg will be brought up to Formula 1 standards and will further advance the development of the Audi power unit.
Meanwhile, the build-up of the team at the facility in Neuburg a. d. Donau under the umbrella of the specially founded Audi Formula Racing GmbH is in full swing. More than 260 specialists are already on board. The core of the development team consists of experienced Audi Sport and Audi employees with many years of diverse expertise in electric motorsport. They are joined by specialists with Formula 1 expertise who have been sourced externally and will strengthen the team in a targeted manner. By the end of the year, the hiring of staff should be completed, and the team will consist of more than 300 employees.
At the same time, the Competence Center Motorsport in Neuburg will be expanded for the Formula 1 project. From the second half of the year, additional test rigs for power unit development will be installed in a new building with a floor area of around 3,000 square meters. A modular design will allow the state-of-the-art test rigs to be put into operation even before the building is fully completed in early 2024. The electricity and heat supply in Neuburg is already CO₂-neutral: The facility is supplied with district heating from industrial waste heat and green electricity from hydroelectric power plants. The FIA, the world governing body, has awarded the facility its three-star environmental seal of approval, the highest distinction for environmental conservation and sustainability. Audi’s goal is to continue to provide CO-neutral energy for the Formula 1 project in Neuburg and to establish a regenerative energy supply at the facility.
Sustainability also plays an important role in the top class of motorsport. The regulations, which will apply from 2026, focus on greater electrification, the electric drivetrain (MGU-K) will then have almost as much power as the combustion engine. The highly efficient 1.6-liter turbocharged engines will be powered by sustainable synthetic fuel. Thanks to open competition, Formula 1 thus serves as a technology driver for both electromobility and sustainable e-fuels. In addition, Formula 1 has set itself the goal of being carbon neutral as a racing series by 2030.
The focus on sustainability and cost efficiency in the form of a budget cap, the so-called “cost cap”, were important factors for Audi’s entry into Formula 1, which was officially announced at the end of August 2022. Audi has selected the experienced Swiss racing team Sauber as its strategic partner for the deployment of an Audi factory team in Formula 1 from 2026.