Audi will challenge Mercedes-AMG in F1 starting in 2026

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After months of rumors and speculation, Audi confirmed it will join Formula 1 for the 2026 season. The company's entry into the series will place it head-to-head against rivals like Mercedes-AMG, and the announcement comes as Audi ends its LMDh endurance racing program.

Audi explained upcoming Formula One regulations that put a bigger focus on keeping costs in check and on electrification convinced it to throw its hat into the ring. FIA rules already limit the amount of money that each team can spend on its racing program, and regulations scheduled to come into effect in 2023 will place a cost cap on power unit manufacturers as well. On the technical side, cars built for the 2026 season will use a new power unit whose electric motor will make nearly as much power as its 544-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged V6.

Engineers at Audi Sport's Neuberg an der Donau, Germany, factory are in charge of developing the power unit. The facility already houses test benches for Formula 1 engines, electric motors and battery packs, and Audi will expand the site as needed over the coming months.

"Formula 1 is the next major milestone in Audi’s motorsport history," says Julius Seebach, the current managing director of Audi Sport. Audi will announce the team it will form a partnership with by the end of 2022, though unofficial reports claim it will link arms with Sauber.

Meanwhile, the German company has its sights set on winning the 2023 Dakar Rally with the plug-in hybrid RS-Q E-Tron.

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