Audi has teased confirmation of a Formula 1 entry, amid expectations of a new engine programme and speculation it will also buy the Sauber team.
The German manufacturer has been linked with an F1 move for many years and had an interest in technical regulation discussions at various points, but never committed to an entry or programme.
That has changed with the engine rule changes that will come into effect in 2026 and the rise in global popularity that F1 is enjoying.
Audi’s move has been anticipated for several months as F1 courted the Volkswagen Group.
F1 programmes from both Audi and sister brand Porsche have been in the offing since late last year and were effectively confirmed in principle in May by outgoing VW Group CEO Herbert Diess.
It has been known for several months that while Porsche was linked with a collaboration with Red Bull, Audi wanted to build its own engine and enter its own team.
But both brands had said previously that the final green light would not be given to either project until the 2026 engine rules were confirmed – which happened earlier in August.
The existing manufacturers have agreed to drop the complex MGU-H from the V6 turbo-hybrids while cost control measures will be implemented.
New manufacturers such as Audi will get additional dyno time and spending allowances to begin with.
Audi shared a teaser image on Friday morning, posting a cropped photo of an F1 car alongside the promise that “more rings are coming”.
— Audi Sport (@audisport) August 26, 2022
It is unclear whether an engine programme will be announced alone or alongside confirmation of its team intentions.
The expectation is that Audi has bought, or will buy, a majority stake in Sauber with current owner Finn Rausing retaining a minority shareholding.
This will give Audi full control of the team that currently runs under the Alfa Romeo banner – a sponsorship deal that is now expected to run until the end of 2023 when it will conclude.
The team will continue using Ferrari engines until it formally transforms into the first full Audi-powered entry in 2026.