Audi to test 2026 F1 engine by the end of 2023
Written By Hugh Waring, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Audi has announced plans to start testing a complete hybrid powertrain for its Formula 1 programme by the end of 2023.
Images: Motorsport Images
The German car manufacturer has been investing heavily in Alfa-Romeo Sauber and will enter the F1 grid in 2026, with a works engine programme and race team. Audi's entry into F1 was conditional on the specification of new-for-2026 engine rules, that do away with the expensive and complex Motor Generator Unit - Heat (MGU-H), while increasing the reliance on electrical power, from 120kW to 350kW.
Audi's announcement of its plans to test the 2026 Formula 1 power unit prototype on the test bench before the end of 2023 signifies a significant step forward in developing its power unit. The company has been making progress on the project, with a single-cylinder test engine in operation at its Neuburg an der Donau motorsport base providing valuable insights for the development of the F1 power unit.
This will be an important milestone in its development programme, with the intention to run its final design in a mule car at some point in 2025 ahead of its F1 debut the following year.
The expansion of Audi's Neuberg facility and its staffing levels is also underway, with the company claiming to have 260 personnel working on the project. They work under the leadership of CEO Adam Baker, who joined Audi in 2021. The staffing will expand to "more than 300 employees" by the end of this year.
In addition, work is underway on a new building at Neuberg, which began in early December last year. This building will house the test benches, the mechanic's workshop, and around 60 employees. Audi is also upgrading its dynamic development simulator in Neuberg to bring it up to Formula 1 standards, which will further advance the development of the Audi power unit. Headed by former McLaren team principal, Andreas Seidl.
Audi technical head Oliver Hoffmann said: “The Audi Formula 1 project has really taken off in recent months.
“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.”
Audi's decision to present its F1 project at Auto Shanghai with the Audi F1 show car is a reminder of the importance of the Chinese market to F1. Audi's progress on its F1 project will be closely watched in the coming months as the company aims to make its mark on the sport.