Audi F1 Racing Engine Conquering Race Distances on Test Bench

the 20th shanghai international automobile industry exhibition auto shanghai 2023 day 1
2026 Audi F1 Racing Engine Conquering Test BenchZhe Ji - Getty Images
  • Audi has been in development of a Formula 1 engine since late 2022.

  • The manufacturer plans to come into the series in 2026 in a factory effort with the current Sauber team.

  • Nico Hulkenberg, currently with Haas, will be one of the team's drivers in 2026.

Incoming Formula 1 engine manufacturer Audi says it has been encouraged by the progress it has made with its power unit ahead of 2026, and is already running race distances on its dyno.

Audi will join Formula 1 for the first time in its history in 2026 under revised engine regulations and will partner with the team currently operating as Sauber.


Development of its power unit has been underway at its expanded facility in Germany since late 2022.

“After just two years, our power unit, consisting of a combustion engine, electric motor, battery and control electronics, is running dynamically on the test bench,” Audi Formula Racing’s Chief Executive Officer, Adam Baker, said. “The Audi power unit has already covered simulated race distances on the test bench. We gained a lot of testing time with the individual components in 2023 and were able to incorporate the experience gained into the next construction stages in parallel.

“Significant milestones and goals have been achieved, which gives the entire team a good feeling. The fact that our entire team can fully concentrate on the development of the power unit for 2026 is an advantage for Audi. The remaining time until 2026 is all about achieving our development goals in terms of maximum overall vehicle performance with full focus.”

The chassis will continue to be constructed at Sauber’s factory across the border, in the Swiss town of Hinwil, where Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl has preparing for Audi’s arrival.

Audi says its team has been created from a mixture of existing company personnel, who worked on other motorsport categories, and people who arrived from all other existing Formula 1 power unit providers.

“We made an early start with the 2026 concept team in Hinwil back in January 2023,” Baker said. “This work is now being intensified with the current chassis regulations. Our goal is clear: to fully exploit the advantages and possibilities of a factory team in terms of packaging and integration of the power unit.”

Audi’s Chief Technical Officer Stefan Dreyer also expressed optimism over the operation’s progress.

“After the successful race distances with the power unit we will soon be doing the same with the entire drive system, which means the combination of power unit and transmission,” Dreyer said. “At the same time, we are going full throttle with performance development in order to achieve the goals we have set ourselves.

f1 grand prix of austria practice sprint qualifying
Nico Hulkenberg will be one of the drivers for the Audi factory effort in 2026. Jayce Illman - Getty Images

“We have run the power unit on the test bench with different layouts from the current F1 calendar, depending on the purpose of the test. For example, Las Vegas is interesting for our development team in terms of overall energy management. Several alternating fast and slow corners and almost two kilometers of full throttle driving on the Las Vegas Strip provide the perfect development environment for fine-tuning the combustion engine and the ERS (Energy Recovery System) components.”

Audi is expected to be one of six power unit manufacturers in 2026, alongside Red Bull Powertrains-Ford, Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda, and Renault (Alpine).

Audi has Nico Hulkenberg under contract for the 2026 season. The German will join Sauber from Haas for 2025, but the identity of its second driver has not yet been decided.