Written By: Juan Arroyo, Edited by: Simran Kanthi
Image Credit: Audi Sport
Audi has announced that it will join Formula 1 in 2026 as an engine supplier and is expected to acquire a majority stake in Sauber. This will see the German manufacturer enter the championship as a title sponsor and powertrain supplier for the Swiss team. The deal would see Audi acquire 75 percent of Sauber Motorsport AG shares over the next three years in a deal reported to be worth €440 million.
"I think it's perfect timing, due to the new rules that were established now, for us to enter F1. There are many aspects. One, we have decided to be a fully electric car manufacturer. And F1 did change the routes in a way that we can hunt with a very high electric part of the powertrain with renewable fuels. And Formula 1 has installed a cost cap that makes it very attractive for us to enter now,” said Audi CEO Markus Duesmann.
"I am delighted to welcome Audi to Formula 1, an iconic automotive brand, pioneer, and technological innovator. This is a major moment for our sport that highlights the huge strength we have as a global platform that continues to grow," added Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali.
This announcement follows the completion of the 2026 technical regulations by the FIA, which aim to modify the powertrains by removing the Motor Generator Unit Heat (MGU-H) while increasing the power output on the power units' Energy Recovery Systems to 350 kilowatts.
As reported by Divebomb in May, Volkswagen Group, the parent company of Audi and Porsche, had publicly declared its interest to join the championship in 2026 but stalled on both manufacturers' confirmation until the engine rules met the board's criteria.
"If we hadn't changed the PU [Power Unit], we wouldn't have given the opportunity to new manufacturers to join," commented FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
Audi representatives denied in Friday morning's announcement that the company had already chosen a team, but said that an official announcement will come before the end of the year. CEO Markus Duesmann added that they would be joining as a supplier, but had no plans of starting up a team of their own.
The German manufacturer is widely expected to acquire Sauber, which will continue to run under the Alfa Romeo moniker and use Ferrari engines until the end of 2025, by which time Audi would become the title sponsor and powertrain supplier for the Swiss team.
Aston Martin and Williams were also among the teams who expressed interest in the Audi F1 deal, but talks never progressed between the parties involved. Audi was also reported to have made a takeover bid for McLaren, but Zak Brown later made it clear while talking to Motorsport.com that the Woking team is not for sale.
Additionally, Audi's sister company, Porsche, is said to be announcing its deal to take a 50 percent stake in Red Bull Racing in the near future, meaning an increased involvement of German companies in Formula 1 and possibly a German Grand Prix return on the horizon.