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Audi leads the way in sustainable F1

The automaker aims to be a leader in sustainability in the racing series. By Andy Davies, Audi Brand Director at Jardine Motors

Formula 1 has been the premier motorsport in the world since its formation in 1950, and some of the most notable manufacturers such as Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren have written their names in the history books. However, one famous marque that hasn’t been seen on the tracks in F1’s 73-year history is Audi. This is set to change, however, as the German automotive giant announced in 2022 that it will be joining the sport in 2026 in collaboration with the Sauber group.

This raises numerous questions for many. Why has it not been included until now? What’s changed for the company and how will it be different to other teams?

Why has it taken so long?

One of the main reasons why Audi took its time in coming to the world of F1 was because it was invested elsewhere. Audi has been part of the Le Mans Series, specifically Le Mans Project 1 (LMP1), since 2008. Formula 1 has rules and regulations that competing teams must adhere to, whereas LMP1 allows for a more open approach to engineering the vehicles. Audi deemed this as a more open approach to racing and invested in that.

The Sauber Group will be Audi’s strategic partner for the latter’s entry in Formula 1, scheduled for 2026

Another big reason for Audi to have not joined the sport is due to the rapid evolution of technology within F1. Joining and being a new team in the late seasons can be a considerable disadvantage and can mean having a huge mountain to climb while others soar ahead.

The company also declared that it will not be creating an entirely new team, and instead will be taking a stake in an existing one. This is where Sauber comes in; it has  been an established team within the sport since 1993 and currently races under the Alfa Romeo banner. While Sauber uses Ferrari engines at the moment, it will become the Audi factory team using the German manufacturer’s engines from 2026.

What changed?

A significant change that has assisted Audi’s decision to join the motorsport is that the 2026 season will see an increased emphasis on sustainability and a move to more ecologically friendly racing. This will include the aim to burn no new fossil fuels and move to having 300% more electrical power in each vehicle.

Audi previously communicated with F1 about its sustainable processes like shifting focus to used cars like used Audi A1s, expressing  agreement with the move to adding a cost cap for manufacturing power units for the vehicles. This is in addition to its positive response to F1’s Net Zero Carbon by 2030 plan.

The manufacturer’s enthusiasm for sustainability comes in line with its own aspirations for a greener future. This includes continuing to bring down its CO2 emissions and “reduce environmental impact across the entire life cycle compared with the predecessor model”, on top of also offering servicing for its many electric and hybrid vehicles on the market.

What could this mean for other manufacturers?

Many manufacturers end up missing out on joining the motorsport due to the number of teams being limited or not having the budget to spend on involving their brand with F1. Audi’s entry into the sport could have a huge impact on manufacturers making more of an effort to join and see the same level of publicity.

Similarly, many vehicle manufacturers are moving towards more sustainable models of production. The knowledge that F1 is looking to be more conscious of its emissions could further encourage more involvement from these established brands, even some that we may not think would be involved in high octane motorsports. For example, esteemed 4×4 manufacturer Land Rover has a sustainability plan that includes larger electric vehicles by 2024, and its involvement with F1 would be sure to make headlines and shake up the sport.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Andy Davies is Audi Brand Director at Jardine Motors

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