Audi’s Plan to Join F1 in 2026 Still On as New CEO Takes Over

"The plan is in place," the new Audi boss says.
Audi F1

Volkswagen group executive Gernot Döllner was named Audi’s new Audi CEO in June of this year, assuming the mantle on September 1. He faced a tough transition, as former Audi CEO Markus Duesmann was ousted this summer reportedly for allowing Audi to fall behind its rivals. Rumors started to swirl that Audi was behind on its power unit development process and that Audi would pull out.

Not so fast, Döllner says. In his first major interview since he became CEO, Döllner told German publication Handelsblatt that Audi’s participation in F1 is definitely still moving forward.

“There is a clear decision from the board of management and the supervisory boards of Audi and Volkswagen that Audi will enter Formula 1 in 2026,” Döllner said. “The plan is in place.”

Audi CEO Gernot Dollner

While Audi boasts a storied history in endurance motorsports, the 2026 event will be the first time the German brand has raced in F1. The opportunity to showcase its technology prowess was too good to pass up.

“For us, it’s very, very important to be progressive and to be pioneers on the technology itself. When we looked at ‘what is the right motorsport series for the future,’ it was very important for us to show ‘vorsprung durch technik‘ [progress through technology] and to be progressive, and I think Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport,” Audi board member for technical development Oliver Hoffmann told Ars Technica in June.

F1’s new regulations for 2026 caught Audi’s attention, too. As F1 transformed, Audi jumped on for the ride with Sauber as its new partner.

“The key to getting involved in the world’s most popular racing series is the clear plan to become more sustainable and cost-efficient,” Audi said in a news release in 2022. “The new technical rules, which will apply from 2026, focus on greater electrification and advanced fuel that is more sustainable than that which is currently used. In addition to the existing cap on costs for teams, a cost cap for power unit manufacturers will be introduced in 2023. In addition, Formula 1 has set itself the ambitious goal of being a carbon-neutral racing series by 2030.”

I’m glad to hear Döllner say it out loud: Audi is still in.

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