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Audi faces "huge" F1 engine challenge for 2026, says Ferrari

Ferrari’s Formula 1 power unit technical director Enrico Gualtieri says that the 2026 regulations will be a “huge challenge” for the new manufacturers that are entering the sport, including Audi.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Alfa Romeo

Audi and Ford/Red Bull Powertrains are both currently developing new power units for the first year of the new rules in 2026, while Cadillac intends to enter as a manufacturer in 2028 with the mooted Andretti team.

The change to the new rules is a tricky one, even for the established manufacturers who already have a decade of experience with F1 hybrids, but Gualtieri says it will be harder for those coming in with no knowledge of the previous generation.

As well as creating power units for 2026, they also have to develop new infrastructure, he notes: “It's hard to say because, obviously, I'm not in their facility or in their shoes.

“But in the end, I think that for sure the level of complexity of this product is high. And it's true that preparing for a brand-new project is not an easy task for anyone.

“So I can for sure respect the job that they are doing on this, because for sure you need to learn and to create something that is not only related to design, competencies or skill from the engineering perspective, but also logistics or infrastructure. So they are facing an important and huge challenge as well.”

Enrico Gualtieri, Technical Director Power Unit Ferrari

Enrico Gualtieri, Technical Director Power Unit Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

Gualtieri acknowledged that the downside for the existing manufacturers is that they have to devote some resources to the current programmes until the end of 2025, even if there is a lid on performance development.

“On our side, obviously, it's a different thing,” he said. “It's true as well that we have to cope with the current programme that is still somehow requiring energy in order to be obviously looked after in view of what we have to deploy on the season.

“So somehow they are different challenges, but both of them are quite high in terms of level of effort that we have worked to deploy.”

However, the regulations dictate to some degree how much work the manufacturers continue to undertake with their current PUs.

“It's true that we are entering this stage at which we are developing the core parts of the new power unit,” he said. “But in terms of percentage it's somehow easy, because at the end we have dyno hours for the current period that are somehow defined, and these are reducing season by season.

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“So this season we will have a further reduction on the dyno hours that we can deploy on the current power unit.

"So we are reducing somehow by definition what we are putting on the current engine, and all the rest obviously has to be driven through the new project.

“Despite this challenge we are focused on the 2024 season as well, because this seems to be the longest season ever, and we know how challenging it will be for the components and for the power unit itself. So still, the focus is really, really high on the season that we are about to start.”

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