- Audi F1’a project head has set an ambitious early target of race wins within three years of the start of the all-new engine regulations in 2026.
- While the Audi project has yet to announce its partner team, it is expected to be the current Alfa Romeo outfit.
- Work on Audi’s 2026 car has already begun in Germany.
Audi expects reveal the name of its partner team for the 2026 Formula 1 season and beyond later this year.
It is believed that a 75% buyout deal with Sauber, the Swiss-based team currently known as Alfa Romeo, has already been signed. Audi’s Formula 1 project head Adam Baker, however, is not yet ready to announce it.
“We considered all the alternatives for the concept of our project,” Baker told the Spanish press at an event in Madrid. “We will let you know about the partner later this year and explain how it is going to work. But we have understood what we need from the ideal partner and this is what will enable us to have success in the future.”
Baker is even willing to set an ambitious early target of race wins within three years of the start of the all-new engine regulations in 2026.
“We understand the scale of the challenge, but we want to show that we can achieve success,” he said. “The board members know a great deal about F1 and are well aware of the challenges involved. But as an entry point, 2026 is a very attractive year. We would love to be competitive from the start but we have to be realistic. We want to be in a position to win races in three years.
“There are rule changes, everyone now works in these financial restrictions so it’s a very different situation to the past in which some teams could have an advantage. In this situation, three years is a realistic path.”
That winning strategy, however, will require winning drivers, but Volkswagen-owned Audi is not willing to talk publicly about any forthcoming talks.
“There is a lot of interest but also three and a half years to go and plenty of time for many changes in the driver market,” said Baker. “We will have a program, a simulator and we will work with drivers for development. It could tie into a young driver program but we’ll talk about that later.
“Now the drivers work much more in the simulator and it would be very interesting to have a veteran driver and of course we are considering it, yes.”
When a Spanish reporter suggest Carlos Sainz as a potential target, Baker answered: “It would be fantastic. But there are many years to go. With (Fernando) Alonso as well? The dream team. Of course we have interest but it is very difficult to think about what will happen in three years. We can dream but it would be speculation.”
Some believe Mick Schumacher is a frontrunner for a works Audi seat due to his German nationality, but Baker insists that the lineup will be “decided by the market, not by nationality”.
Yet another consideration is whether Audi will supply its Formula 1 engine, which Baker says will be ready to fire up “before the end of the year,” to a customer team.
“We will be ready, we are committed, but at the moment we are not looking for a specific client,” he said. “And the regulations may force us to give engines to other teams.”
As for the car, Baker revealed that work in Neuburg, Germany, has already begun.
“We’re starting now because the development of the electric side and the chassis is very important,” Baker said. “Testing will begin in the middle of 2025, probably in Spain, and then we will start in 2026.”
Also starting now is a recruitment drive to ramp up Audi’s F1 workforce.
“We have been able to start very quickly with a very competent group of technicians, so we have not had to recruit anyone or hire outside,” said Baker. “We are about 130 people but we are building the team very quickly. What the final number will be is a good question, bearing in mind how much money there is for internal and external costs.
“But, yes, it will be more than 300.”