Audi‘s entry into the premier class of motorsport, namely the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, represents a significant step forward for the prestigious marque. As a racing fan, the main admiration for Audi stems from the brand’s high regard for innovation and constant forward motion.
We can only assume that their Formula 1 power train will meet the standards of its world-class F1 drivers based on their RS models, which have been tuned for high torque and precision handling. Their Formula 1 power train will be built in Germany, and their engineers are hard at work developing a custom power unit.
Grand Plans Ahead
At a recent press conference at the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, Markus Duesmann, Chairman of Audi AG’s Board of Management, and Oliver Hoffmann, Member of Audi AG’s Board of Management for Technical Development, answered questions in the presence of Formula 1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali and Mohammed ben Sulayem, President of the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
“Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA,” Duesmann added. Formula 1 serves as a global stage for our brand as well as a highly demanding development laboratory. In our industry, the combination of high performance and competition is always a driver of innovation and technology transfer. With the new rules in place, now is the time for us to get involved. After all, both Formula One and Audi have clear sustainability goals.”
The marque will also necessitate the development of a clear strategy to make F1 racing more sustainable and cost-effective. The new technical rules will take effect in 2026, where greater electrification and advanced sustainable fuels must be administered. In addition, the existing cost cap for teams, as well as a cost cap for power unit manufacturers, will be implemented in 2023. In tandem with climate change, Formula 1 has set the lofty goal of becoming a carbon-neutral racing series by 2030.
Shape Of Things To Come
Audi’s presence in the Formula One championship indicates that things are looking up for the brand. “In view of the major technological leaps that the series is making towards sustainability in 2026, we can speak of a new Formula 1,” said Oliver Hoffmann, member of the Board of Technical Development. Audi wants to actively support the transformation of Formula One. Synergies will be enabled by a close collaboration between our Formula 1 project and AUDI AG’s Technical Development department.”
From 2026, the power train for F1 vehicles will include an electric motor, battery, control electronics, and a combustion engine. This translates to a significant increase in power, all thanks to Formula 1 drive systems. The electric motor will be nearly as powerful as the combustion engine, which produces around 400 kW. (544 hp). The highly efficient 1.6-litre turbo engines run on advanced sustainable fuel, which is also a requirement for Audi’s participation in the series.
New Site, New Engine
This new power unit will be developed at Audi Sport’s cutting-edge Competence Center Motorsport in Neuburg a der Donau, just a short distance from Audi AG’s headquarters in Ingolstadt. The company will leverage the valuable expertise of its highly specialized employees to gain entry into Formula 1 as part of Audi’s motorsport realignment.
Audi is planning to build test benches in Neuburg for F1 engine testing as well as electric motor and battery testing. This planning also includes personnel, building, and technical infrastructure preparations, with everything needed to be in place by the end of the year.
Audi Sport recently established a separate company as a wholly owned subsidiary for the power unit project. Adam Baker will take over as CEO of the Formula One project. The trained engineer has held various senior positions in motorsport for manufacturers and teams. He worked for the FIA for three years before joining Audi in 2021. Audi and F1 fans will get to know the team lineup for 2026 by the end of 2022.
Capturing Younger F1 Fans
Audi, too, is not resting on its laurels. Trying to attract younger F1 fans will be their strategy in the future, as Formula 1 is currently experiencing the highest growth rates among the world’s most popular sports. According to a 2021 survey, more than 1.5 billion TV viewers watched the races. The exponential trend for younger fans and audiences is most prevalent in key markets such as China and the United States.
A New Head At Audi AG
Rolf Michl will have to fill some big shoes when he takes over as Managing Director of Audi AG on September 1, 2022. He will have to take on a new strategic business area in Technical Development, reporting directly to the Executive Board. Michl holds a business administration degree and has been a member of the Audi Sport family for many years. After working in marketing at Audi AG and Audi Sport, he was appointed Head of Product Marketing RS Models in 2016.
In 2019, he returned to Audi Sport GmbH as Head of Sales/Marketing after working at Abt Sportsline as Director of Vehicle Customisation. Michl has been instrumental in shaping the company’s portfolio and sales success over time. “Rolf is an authentic leader who brings the experience he will need from motorsport and series production,” Hoffmann said. In addition to his marketing roles, Michl was in charge of designing and implementing the Audi Sport TT Cup in 2014.
The outgoing Julius Seebach paved the way for the success of Audi’s RS models, which saw sales double, as well as his role in delivering the successful market launch of the RS e-tron GT. Seebach also took over responsibility for motorsport at Audi in 2020, ensuring that it was future-ready. He oversaw the development of the most complex racing car in Audi history, the RS Q e-tron for the Dakar Rally, in record time.
The powerful car won the first overall victory in Abu Dhabi in March 2022, marking the first triumph of an electric vehicle in a desert rally. Entering Formula One is the culmination of his efforts. With all of these strategies in place, F1 and Audi fans can look forward to the upcoming high-adrenaline races in this lifetime.