Audi today have denied reports it is set to abandon its intention to join Formula One in 2026. The plan of the VW owned brad is to take over the Sauber F1 team and supply their own power unit under the new FIA regulations.
An Audi spokesman tells total-motorsport.com: “Audi’s F1 entry in 2026 is based on a decision of the Board of Audi AG in alignment with the Supervisory Board of Audi AG. As well as the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen Group.
Reliable sources say Audi out
The source added that Audi’s preparations to develop the new engine “remains unchanged”, although the brevity of the statement will raise eyebrows in the F1 paddock.
The report from LeMans radio claimed there will be a decision to cancel the F1 project at the upcoming board meeting of VW this month. Radio Le Mans has proven over the years not to spread rumours or gossip and so this broadcast claiming certain proper sources in the know is almost certain to be true.
If true, this is devastating news for the FIA who have been courting both Audi and Porsche for almost a decade to join the sport as OEM manufactures following the mid 2000’s where the likes of Honda and Toyota were bailing on their F1 commitments.
Red Bull Racing following their massive fallout wit Renault were faced with the potential of having no power unit supplier and so the FIA took action.
This is not the first time we have mentioned this on MWM…
Goes back to June I think.
— Midweek Motorsport (@specutainment) October 7, 2023
F1 PU power games
Now should a team find themselves without a deal for a power train, the F! engine supplier with the least customer teams must provide the team in limbo with their power train.
Yet Formula One power unit suppliers are still relatively rare with just four manufacturers powering 20 cars.
To prevent the FIA being held to ransom, the F1 governing body has been on a decade long beauty parade to find more power unit manufacturers to join the sport and dilute the power of the current suppliers.
Hybrid now yesterday’s technology
To do this the FIA tapped into the view that the road consumers of the continent would take decades to transition from internal combustion engines to full electric-powered cars.
But the world has changed in the past seven years and hybrid tech looks like a clumsy solution to road car fuel efficiency, a technological ‘cul-de-sac’ so to speak. If Formula One wishes to change the world the next generation of power units should have taken into consideration the current billion combustion cars and look at ways to convert these relics to biofuel.
The German manufacturer has already invested around $200m in buying a minority stake in the Swiss based F1 team and was set to increase this position for 2024 with a view to acquire full ownership for the new regulations due in 2026.
Now it seems like their bombshell news will be given once the current Formula 1 season ends says Radio Le Mans.
It has come from 2 separate and reliable sources but we're chasing more detail
— Eve Hewitt (@radiolemans) October 6, 2023
Andretti news ‘a coincidence’
However, it appears too much of a coincidence that the news Audi is pulling out of a $600m deal to buy Sauber occurred just days after Andretti was approved by the FIA as the brand new 11th team on the grid.
A brand new team joining Formula One has enormous benefits over a team being acquired by a third party.
Haas Formula 1 proved this prior to their rookie season in 2016. Any capital setup spending regulations did not restrict that particular team before the year they began competing, and they were able to test their car for thousands of laps should they so wish.
Not possible for any new manufacturer now wishing to join Formula 1 now using an existing team setup that requires investment.
Williams F1 team has persistently complained that the current budget cap rules have prevented the team from Grove to make the necessary investments in infrastructure to compete with the midfield. Decades of underinvestment have hamstrung Williams who are attempting to pull themselves from the back of the grid, back into the midfield battle.
Case in point is McLaren who green lit their state-of-the-art wind tunnel just before the budget cap rules came into place in an effort to invest now, or lose the opportunity.
Audi can find a better way to F1
This week’s FIA green light for Andretti to join F1 has clearly provoked a change of heart from Audi with Radio Le Man staff saying they’ve had several conversations with reliable sources on the day of the Andretti news about the Audi situation.
Audi could now apply as a new entrant, be approved and then build the latest high tech facility costing who knows what and it would all be outside the remit of the FIA until race one where they they complete.
The alternative is to try and upgrade the Sauber production facility which is based in Switzerland and subject to capital expenditure projects.
FIA should revise new PU formula
Of course, given the FIA capital expenditure restrictions, this will take years to achieve. A New team like Andretti can blow a thousand budgets which they don’t have, to adhere to, and deliver a competitive car for 2024.
The conclusion of the recent news from Andretti and Audi clearly creates the impression the all-new F1 engine formula is a dinosaur and may again be delayed to deliver a proper 21st-century offering to entice the OEMs into the sport.
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Speaking to Mike Wedderburn the seven times champion claimed…READ MORE ON THIS STORY