Audi F1 Team predicts Formula 1 race wins within three years of 2026 launch
- The Audi F1’a project leader has set an ambitious target of race wins within three years of the start of all-new engine regulations in 2026.
- Although Project Audi has yet to announce its partner team, it is expected to be Alfa Romeo’s current outfit.
- Work on Audi’s 2026 car has already started in Germany.
Audi expects to reveal the name of its partner team for the 2026 Formula 1 season and beyond later this year.
It is believed that a 75% takeover deal with Sauber, the Swiss-based team currently known as Alfa Romeo, has already been signed. Adam Baker, head of the Formula 1 project at Audi, is however not ready to announce it yet.
“We considered all the alternatives for the concept of our project,” Baker told Spanish press at an event in Madrid. “We will update you on the partner later this year and explain how it will work. But we have understood what we need from the ideal partner and that is what will allow us to be successful in the future.”
Baker is even set to set an ambitious goal of race wins within three years of the start of all-new engine regulations in 2026.
“We understand the scale of the challenge, but we want to show we can pull it off,” he said. “Board members know a lot about F1 and are well aware of the challenges ahead. But as an entry point, 2026 is a very attractive year. We would like to be competitive from the start, but we have to be realistic. We want to be able to win races in three years.
“There are rule changes, everyone is now working within these financial restrictions, so it’s a very different situation from the past where some teams might have an advantage. In this situation, three years is a realistic path.”
This winning strategy, however, will require winning drivers, but Volkswagen-owned Audi is unwilling to speak publicly about any upcoming talks.
“There’s a lot of interest but also three and a half years and a lot of time for a lot of changes in the driver market,” Baker said. “We will have a programme, a simulator and we will work with pilots for development. It could be linked to a program for young pilots, but we will talk about that later.
“Now the pilots work a lot more in the simulator and it would be very interesting to have a veteran pilot and of course we are thinking about it, yes.
When a Spanish journalist suggested Carlos Sainz as a potential target, Baker replied, “That would be fantastic. But there are still many years left. With (Fernando) Alonso too? difficult to think of what will happen in three years. We can dream but that would be speculation.”
Some believe Mick Schumacher is a favorite for a factory Audi seat because of his German nationality, but Baker insists the range will be “decided by market, not nationality”.
Another consideration is whether Audi will supply its Formula 1 engine, which Baker says will be ready to start “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 particular client,” he said. “And the regulations may require 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 on the electrical side and the chassis is very important,” Baker said. “Testing will start in the middle of 2025, probably in Spain, then we will start in 2026.”
A recruitment drive is also starting to increase Audi’s F1 workforce.
“We were able to get started very quickly with a very competent group of technicians, so we didn’t have to recruit anyone or hire from outside,” Baker said. “We are around 130 people but we are building the team very quickly. What the final number will be is a good question, considering how much money there is for internal and external costs.
“But, yes, it will be over 300.”