The next step toward the FIA Formula 1 World Championship has been completed. Audi has selected Sauber as a critical partner for the project and intends to purchase a stake in the Sauber Group. The agreement implies that starting in 2026, the Swiss racing team will race as a factory team for Audi, using the powertrain that Audi is developing for motorsport's top class.
Audi's confirmation of its strategic partner comes after the business announced its foray into Formula 1 at the end of August. Sauber is one of the most respected and traditional Formula 1 teams, with almost 30 years of racing history. The drivetrain (Power Unit) will be built in Audi's motorsport competence center in Neuburg, while the race vehicle will be built at Sauber's factory in Hinwil, Switzerland. Sauber is also in charge of the competition's preparation and execution.
"We are thrilled to have found such an experienced and capable partner for our ambitious Formula 1 project," says Oliver Hoffmann, technical development manager at AUDI AG. "From prior collaborations, we already know the Sauber Group with its cutting-edge facilities and experienced teams, and we are convinced that we will establish a powerful team together."
Audi Sport repeatedly used the Sauber Group's high-tech wind tunnel in Hinwil, which is only around four hours drive to the south, during the successful Le Mans era and the construction of the basic wagon car for the DTM.
According to Finn Rausing, Chairman of the Board of Sauber Holding, Audi is the greatest partner for the Sauber Group. Both companies have the same principles and vision. We look forward to realizing our joint goals with solid and effective cooperation.
The powertrain, which includes an electric motor, a battery, control electronics, and an internal combustion engine, is already being developed at the Neuburg plant of the newly formed business Audi Formula Racing GmbH. The project already has around 120 individuals working on it.
"Sauber is a first-rate partner for the usage of the Audi Power Unit," says Adam Baker, the company's CEO. We are excited to work with an experienced crew that has helped shape several eras of Formula One history. We want to start writing the next chapter together in 2026.
The schedule for the first race with Audi's participation in the 2026 season is aggressive. The Neuburg facility's growth in terms of employees, facilities, and technical infrastructure should be completed by 2023. The first testing of a Formula One car with an engine designed for the 2026 regulation is scheduled for 2025.
With the new regulations that go into effect in 2026, Formula 1 is taking a significant step toward sustainability. This was a necessary criterion for Audi to enter the championship. Because the fraction of electric operation will increase dramatically, the engines will be more efficient than they are now. The electric powertrain will be nearly as powerful as the internal combustion engine, producing 544 horsepower. The very efficient turbocharged 1.6-liter engines will be fuelled by CO2-neutral synthetic fuel (according to EU standards). Formula 1 has also targeted becoming a CO2-neutral racing series by 2030.