Unique: Audi’s masterplan to enter F1

The primary rumblings that VW Group was contemplating coming into Components 1 surfaced in July 2021 throughout an influence unit summit known as by the FIA through the Austrian Grand Prix weekend: The German carmaker, which includes 11 manufacturers throughout two and 4 wheels and heavy automobiles, was represented by two divisional CEOs, particularly Oliver Blume of Porsche and Audi prime man Markus Duesmann.

Nonetheless, attending such conferences is affordable; the expensive bit is signing as much as F1 participation, whether or not as energy unit provider or group proprietor: even after finances caps on chassis and racing operations had been launched final 12 months, there may be little change from $250m when all prices are tallied. Add in engine operations and issues quickly double.

Thus, one of many aims of the summit was to find out the situations underneath which new manufacturers might enter F1, notably as engine suppliers. It was clear that budgets of $250m for a season provide of engines to eight vehicles (at most) – successfully 40 items plus a pile of ‘mule’ engines used for testing – was hardly going to draw the cream of the motor trade.

Nor would, for that matter, retention of the technically fascinating however horrifically costly and sophisticated MGU-H power restoration items that maintain zero curiosity for carmakers and are thus of no curiosity to potential entrants. As for open ended dynamometer testing – simply extra money going up in a haze of exhaust smoke. Clearly, then, F1 wanted to prune engine budgets simply because it had group budgets.

That was not all: Because the final F1 engine provider, particularly Honda, entered the game (in 2015), world environmental issues escalated such that in the identical week because the FIA summit the EU introduced plans to chop common CO2 emissions for passenger vehicles with inside combustion engines from 95g per kilometre by 2030 and to zero 5 years later. Future F1 engines would want to slot in.

A lot to-ing and fro-ing occurred to December final 12 months earlier than a top level view set of 2026-30 PU rules was agreed by the FIA Engine Working Group, however ratification by the FIA World Motorsport Council remained elusive as a result of not all i’s had been dotted nor the t’s crossed. The governing physique knew it had one shot at getting it proper, notably with regard to sustainability and value management. Screw up and VW Group walked.

Finally all was agreed and introduced by the WMSC on 16 August, the contact factors being: Price range cap of $100m each year, limits on bench testing, a glide path for newcomers to ease themselves in, internet carbon zero by way of non-fossil fuels, and 1000bhp energy items by way of a 50/50 mixture of ICEs based mostly on present items with out MGU-H and hybrid. Porsche and Audi made cooing noises, however would they enter?

			© Audi Sport

© Audi Sport

Audi verify 2026 F1 entry

Ten days later Audi hosted a press convention at Spa-Francorchamps throughout which it confirmed its F1 entry, initially as PU provider. Current had been FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, Audi’s Duesmann and its Board Member for Growth, Oliver Hoffmann – underneath whom Audi Sport falls.

As an apart, through the convention Duesmann said Audi’s F1 engines could be designed and produced in Germany, including, “If Porsche is available in, they’ll have their operations within the UK, it is going to be completely separate.” Unsaid was that Mercedes builds its PUs in Britain, plus did Duesmann then know Porsche and Crimson Bull would pull the plug on their proposed three way partnership?

“I pinched myself when it was publicly introduced,” Stefan Dreyer (pictured above), an Audi Sport lifer and its Technical Director for energy items, tells RacingNews365
through the first go to by an English-language F1 outlet to Audi Sport’s ‘Motorsport Competence Centre’ in Neuburg an der Donau – located a 20-minute automobile trip west of Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters – because the F1 mission was confirmed.

Inaugurated in 2014, the 47-hectare complicated includes a state-of-the-art technical campus alongside Audi’s take a look at and driving expertise facility. Right here, Audi’s Le Mans/WEC LMP1 vehicles had been designed, Components E energy items optimised, the WRX-winning A1 conceived and the complicated vary extender Dakar RS Q e-tron devised. Certainly, two upgraded buggies had been being ready for the 2023 version throughout our go to (image under).

			© Audi Sport

© Audi Sport

			© Audi Sport

© Audi Sport

Audi Components Racing registered in July 2022

Dreyer battles to include his enthusiasm: Throughout 19 years with Audi Sport this arch motorsport PU engineer oversaw successful WEC (petrol and diesel, flywheel and hybrid), DTM and FE initiatives, but admits F1 was past his wildest goals. He’s clearly delighted {that a} long-term dedication has been made to F1 after the 4 Rings withdrew from WEC and DTM within the wake of Dieselgate and swapped FE for Dakar.

RacingNews365 can reveal {that a} new firm, particularly Audi Components Racing GmbH, was registered on 19 July 2022, with Adam Baker, previously the FIA’s Director of Security who experiences to Hoffmann, as CEO. The articles of incorporation of the corporate are: ‘Perform actions required as a producer of powertrain items for motorsport initiatives, particularly the event, manufacturing and sale of corresponding engines.’

Collectively, Baker and Dreyer represented Audi throughout a raft of conferences at which the 2026-on rules had been thrashed out, not solely negotiating with the FIA and F1, however with the present engine producers, all of whom had (and have) vested pursuits. “We achieved lots of what we wished,” Dreyer smiles with apparent satisfaction. “That was a fundamental prerequisite, in any other case we’d not have agreed to enter.”

			© Audi Sport

© Audi Sport

Intensive Audi F1 recruitment underway

Because the PU rules crystalised, so Audi tabled its wish-lists, albeit not all the time efficiently: When first the varied engineers met, all-wheel drive was underneath dialogue; nonetheless, for the foreseeable future the one purpose-built Audi 4WD entries can be mentioned Dakar buggies after F1 determined to stay with rear-driven axles and power restoration items for numerous causes, not least prices.

Dreyer doesn’t, although, lament the binning of MGU-H: “It is a very, very complicated part the place the others have an enormous head begin, [but] it has no relevance for collection manufacturing. That is why it wasn’t of curiosity to us to push this know-how.”

Nevertheless, even after the regulatory parameters had been set, the satan was within the element. Discussions dragged on and Audi feared time would run out: The longest F1 lead time merchandise is the engine – not solely design and growth timings, however to create a world-class infrastructure from scratch and recruit 300 specialist heads.

Dreyer ideas his hat at Crimson Bull Powertrains, which ran its first full V6 idea (albeit with out hybrid) on a bench somewhat underneath a 12 months after signing off its 2026 ICE mission: “We are able to solely speculate [about what Red Bull had on the dyno] however the truth is: You’ll be able to solely congratulate them that an engine is now already operating on the dyno. Now it is our flip.”

He does, although, decline to call a date just because Audi had numerous formalities to take care of first, so misplaced floor: “We wanted to current the mission and acquire board approval inside the firm earlier than we may start the implementation section.

“This section began a couple of months earlier than [our press] communication,” Dreyer smiles. “Because the spring of 2022 we have recruited quite a lot of specialists underneath strict declarations of secrecy about their precise features. The group now consists of about 100 staff.”

The finances cap, which applies to all F1 engine producers from 1 January 2023 – collaborating engine suppliers are required to enter by 15 October 2022 – determines headcount ranges. “300 plus,” would be the eventual payroll in keeping with Dreyer: “That is the dimensions we’re planning for.”

Considerably, Mercedes Excessive Efficiency Powertrains presently make use of round 650 heads, of which 450 are believed to be on F1 and the remainder on in-house and Components E initiatives. Dreyer will not be drawn on comparisons, however says, “We’ll work from the underside up and [other engine suppliers] must go from the highest down. That is a chance and a threat for each side.”

Numerous positions can be stuffed by present Audi Sport staff, however an intensive recruitment course of has begun. “I do know the group [in Neuburg],” Dreyer says with apparent pleasure of their earlier achievements, including, “I’ve full belief.

“Nevertheless, we’d like extra individuals and should recruit [within the wider VW Group] and draw on exterior experience and abilities.” He reveals that ads are presently operating for 12 completely different positions, and that they had been overwhelmed by purposes when the mission was confirmed. “It was most encouraging,” enthuses Dreyer (49), born in Stuttgart however largely schooled within the USA after his father was transferred.

			© Audi Sport

© Audi Sport

Audi’s MCC not but prepared for F1

He clearly has his work reduce out: Though the MCC is cutting-edge, the location is way from prepared for F1, having no single-cylinder take a look at rigs, as earlier motorsport PUs for WEC had been developed on the Neckarsulm website and delivered to Neuburg as full items. Nevertheless, house isn’t a problem – a wind tunnel was initially deliberate for – and development has begun on bespoke halls alongside the primary engineering constructing.

A lot of the present engine infrastructure, equivalent to a simulator and 6 AVL take a look at cells supplied by go-to specialist AVL in Graz, is already in place – though last-named installations must be transformed from 4WD (WEC) to single axle operation. Crucially, electrical and battery take a look at rigs are in place too, having been used for FE and LMP1 growth.

“Assembling a Components 1 engine is like open-heart surgical procedure,” Dreyer stresses as he exhibits us round, a reference to the scientific requirements which can be apparent by the absence of even a speck of mud.

All that mentioned, regardless of the just about ‘dumbed down’ nature of the incoming PUs, a large technological problem awaits, as Dreyer freely admits: “There is no such thing as a guide [for F1 ICEs] and we’ve got nice respect for [what awaits].

“Prior to now, we did not have high-revving ideas in our motorsport initiatives; the DTM engine was restricted to 9,500rpm; diesel engines ran decrease anyway.”

F1 engines run to 12,500rpm and thus Audi has catching as much as do, notably because the competitors has developed their energy items since 2014. The identical applies to valve gear: “We’ve by no means labored with pneumatic methods earlier than as we have all the time had typical gear valve trains,” however Dreyer admits his group relishes the problem. “As engineers, we’re up for it and assured we are able to do it, however we’ve got respect.”

			© Audi Sport

© Audi Sport

The engine isn’t, although, the one main problem going through the mission: With energy items more and more built-in with transmissions to kind powertrains it is vital, “To place your self sooner or later as an influence unit producer, you additionally should deal with the transmission.

“The extra such elements are derived from a single supply, the extra their effectivity and co-ordination of the elements with one another.” Nevertheless, Dreyer clarifies that ‘transmission’ on this refers back to the internal gear cassette with out the casing.

“I’d all the time see the housing as a part of the [chassis] facet,” he explains, including that shafts and gears can be produced in Neuburg, however housings – which act as load-bearers for suspension members – would be the accountability of no matter group takes on Audi’s energy items.

Which raises two questions: Given rumours are rife that Audi has (or will) reduce a cope with Sauber – the storyline gained credence when the Swiss group’s title sponsor Alfa Romeo introduced shortly after Audi’s announcement that it was exiting F1 at end-2023, doubtlessly offering Audi with a two-year ramp up window – which group is Audi planning on buying or partnering, and does Audi plan to provide prospects?

The primary level is diplomatically batted it away on the premise that he’s the pinnacle of engines and thus any discuss from him about potential partnerships or group possession could be past his space of accountability, however Dreyer admits that might welcome a buyer provide deal.

“The broader you’ll be able to [harvest data] from the beginning, the higher. Interval, end-of,” he says earlier than admitting that when the Virgin Components E group approached Audi for powertrains they had been initially cautious however quickly realised the advantages of duplicated knowledge assortment.

Neither is there discuss of immediate domination: “We would not be in motorsport if we did not need to win,” says Dreyer frankly as our two-hour go to attracts to an finish. “That is what drives us. However to say we’ll win within the first 12 months: troublesome. If we’re within the combine within the first 12 months, obtain particular person outcomes, are dependable and aggressive, and do not lag behind on any issues, then we’re properly positioned for the long run.

“Thereafter the whole lot is open, however we’ve got to achieve that first.”

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