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Audi joins F1 to catch up with Mercedes

Audi will participate in Formula 1 from 2026, the Volkswagen premium brand said, joining German rival Mercedes at the front lines of the fast-growing motorsport.

“Formula 1 is both a global journey for our brand and a challenging development laboratory,” said Audi boss Markus Duesmann in a statement.

He added that the Ingolstadt-based brand decided to join as an engine supplier after new regulations on power units for Formula 1 were agreed this month, paving the way for next generation engines powered by a mixture of batteries and biofuels.

Brand Volkswagen Porsche said earlier this year it would also rejoin Formula 1, although the brand has yet to make an official announcement. Porsche CEO Oliver Blume will take over as chief executive of the Volkswagen Group in early September.

Volkswagen By the Stuttgart-based company’s calculations, Mercedes watched from the sidelines as Mercedes, which completely re-entered the sport in 2010, won eight consecutive constructors’ titles, reaching gets $1 billion worth of brand equity from its F1 team, according to the Stuttgart-based company’s calculations.

Audi F1 concept

Audi F1 concept

Audi, the company that has been in talks with McLaren, said it “won’t form a whole new team” in F1, and will name its partner in a few weeks. The brand has also been in discussions with Sauber, which is currently racing to partner with Alfa Romeo, according to people familiar with the matter.

F1 enjoyed a resurgence under ownership of Liberty Media, which acquired the global racing series in an $8 billion deal in 2017. The US investment group rewrote the rules principles of the sport by persuading teams to agree to a budget cap and a series of changes designed to make racing more competitive and social-friendly.

Another draw for manufacturers and team owners is the expansion of the sport into the United States due to the popularity of the sport. Drive to survive, a behind-the-scenes documentary series streaming on Netflix. Having struggled to expand into the US for years, Liberty Media has added Miami to its F1 calendar and will add a major tournament in Las Vegas from 2023.

Duesmann, a former F1 engineer at BMW and Mercedes, declined to confirm how much Audi spent setting up the F1 unit in Neuburg an der Donau. But he told reporters during a press conference at Spa racetrack in Belgium that the brand, already successful at Le Mans, does not need to monetize the venture.

He added that he hopes Audi will be able to compete “ideally within the first three years” of entering the sport.

F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali, who used to work for Volkswagen, said Audi’s move marks “an important moment for our sport, highlighting the immense power with which it is We have a global platform that continues to grow.”

F1 reported second-quarter revenue of $744 million, up nearly 50%, after increasing race promotion, media rights and sponsorship fees. The group’s Paddock Club hospitality business also revived after being unable to operate for a corresponding three-month period last year because of the pandemic.

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