CEO says Audi entering F1 to be ’at the very front’

"We decided to significantly accelerate our involvement"


10 May 2024 - 11:12
CEO says Audi entering F1 to be (...)

Audi intends to enter Formula 1 and be "at the very front" of the grid, the Volkswagen-owned German carmaker’s CEO Gernot Dollner insists.

This year, Audi surprised the F1 world by ramping up its original plan to eventually buy 75 percent of the Swiss team Sauber - and instead took 100 percent control.

It followed a period of speculation that Audi was actually thinking about completely reversing its decision to enter Formula 1 for the new rules era beginning in 2026.

"We discussed it intensively and decided to significantly accelerate our involvement in Formula 1," Dollner explained to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

He says Audi is not interested in being in F1 simply to make up the numbers.

"With the expertise of Oliver Hoffmann, who has significantly driven the project forward since the beginning, we are confident that we can tackle this challenge and be at the forefront," said Dollner.

"It will be a hard road, but Formula 1 is the most important motorsport platform in the world and we will do everything we can to be successful there."

Audi has already signed up German driver Nico Hulkenberg, who is currently at Haas, for the project - and he will begin racing a Sauber next year, prior to the works rebranding a season later.

Hulkenberg says another team was actually interested in signing him for 2025, in addition to Haas and Audi. So what tipped the scales in the latter’s favour?

"The timing of the whole project," Hulkenberg, 36, answered. "When Audi launches in 2026, they will have had four years to prepare," he told Sport Bild this week.

"And this will be one of the most radical rule changes in the history of Formula 1, both on the car and aerodynamics side as well as the engine side.

"The cards will be reshuffled and Red Bull’s lead will be gone," Hulkenberg predicted. "With the lead time, the power of Audi and the resources that a factory team brings with it, there is definitely a chance of success."

However, the German driver admitted that Audi is also walking into the unknown with its new F1 project.

"It’s very difficult to bet on the future with such a new project," Hulkenberg warned. "The fact that such a big brand is behind it doesn’t mean that everything will work out.

"But I do think that all the prerequisites are there to be competitive as quickly as possible."

As for CEO Dollner, he commented: "For me, there are only two types of involvement in Formula 1 - not at all or with the aim of being at the front. At the very front."

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