Feb.9 (GMM) Audi wants its Formula 1 engines to be near the front of the grid by 2029.
While that sounds like a long time for now, the Volkswagen-owned German carmaker will only fire up a power unit for the beginning of the new engine rules era in 2026.
25 percent of Sauber – currently known as Alfa Romeo – has already been acquired, amid speculation the eventual goal is three-quarters team ownership by 2026.
But Adam Baker, Audi’s F1 project boss, says preparations are already well underway.
“We definitely won’t be bored between now and then,” he told the German newspaper Bild.
“Developing a Formula 1 hybrid drive is one of the greatest challenges an engineer can face. That’s why it was all the more important that we were able to start the process immediately when the engine regulations were approved last summer.”
Bild said expansion works at Audi’s Neuburg facility are underway, with 240 employees added to the F1 project – 200 from Audi Sport and 40 external hires.
Nonetheless, there are still plenty of sceptics who think just a few years will not be enough time for Audi to build a competitive engine for 2026.
“We announced our entry earlier than any other manufacturer in recent decades,” Baker insists. “We’re on time.
“But we know and respect the magnitude of the challenge ahead. We will do a good job for 2026. I have no doubts about that.
“Nevertheless, in the first season it will be about having the highest possible level of reliability. Then we want to keep improving.
“Our goal is to be up front in the third year,” Baker added. “For that, we need a top engine. We want to show what ‘Made in Germany’ stands for: a reliable engine at the highest level.
“We are super proud that there is again a German location for participation in Formula 1.”