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Audi aims to start F1 engine tests by end of 2023

Audi reckons its Formula 1 programme will be ready to test a complete hybrid powertrain and will have finished its 300-person hiring programme by the end of 2023.

Audi CEO Markus Duesmann during the Audi press conference at Auto Shanghai 2023

Audi Communications Motorsport

Major investment from the manufacturer into Sauber will allow Audi to enter F1 for 2026 with a works engine programme and race team, while sister Volkswagen Group marque Porsche has now officially put its topflight entry on hold after partnership talks failed with Red Bull and McLaren.

Audi’s arrival in F1 was conditional on the specification of new-for-2026 engine rules that do away with the complex and expensive Motor Generator Unit – Heat, while increasing the reliance on electrical power to 350kW in addition to the adoption of fully sustainable fuels.

In lieu of a Chinese Grand Prix last weekend due to COVID-19, Audi has used the Auto Shanghai motor show to formally present its F1 programme in China and provide a status update.

Most notably, the manufacturer confirms that a single-cylinder engine has been tested “since the end of 2022” to help validate the test bench set-up and “measuring instruments”.

The fledgling Red Bull Powertrains division is also known to have tested a 2026-spec single-cylinder mule engine in the autumn last year.

In addition, Audi reports that a “full hybrid drivetrain unit, consisting of the combustion engine, electric motor, battery and electronic control unit” is scheduled to run on the test bench before the end of 2023 and “will form the basis for the future vehicle concept”.

Audi technical head Oliver Hoffmann said: “The Audi Formula 1 project has really taken off in recent months.

“In the ongoing concept phase of the power unit, the foundation of our drivetrain for 2026 is being laid today.

The new Audi Sport F1 concept car

The new Audi Sport F1 concept car

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“We attach great importance to detail work, for example on materials or manufacturing technologies, and we also focus on topics such as the energy management of the hybrid drivetrain.

“After all, efficiency is a key success factor for Formula 1 and the mobility of the future, these approaches will advance both worlds.”

The expansion of the F1 facility at Neuburg means 260 “specialists” have already been hired but that recruitment drive will exceed 300 before the end of the year.

Audi promises a mix of externally sourced “Formula 1 expertise” alongside existing and high-profile Audi Sport and Audi employees familiar from its recent motorsport programmes.

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Infrastructure upgrades include additional test rigs for power unit development being installed in a new 3,000-square-metre building.

Audi board chair Markus Duesmann said: “We are convinced that our Formula 1 commitment will strengthen Audi’s sporting focus.

“The racing series is continuously increasing its global reach, especially among young target groups and in our most important sales market: China.”

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