Audi has announced its return to Formula 1 for the introduction of the new engine regulations in 2024. The German manufacturer will be ditching the Motor Generator Unit–Heat (MGU-H) and has been testing a one-cylinder mule engine since last year. By 2024, Audi expects to have a complete 1.6-liter turbo hybrid powertrain ready to run on a dyno. To aid in this project, Audi has signed on Neel Jani, a former test driver for Sauber and Red Bull, to assist with the simulator program at the Neuburg engine plant.
Jani, who won the 2016 World Endurance Championship for Porsche and set the lap record at Spa aboard the 919 Hybrid Evo project, expressed his excitement about joining Audi’s Formula 1 venture. He said, “I am delighted to accompany Audi on their way into Formula 1. It is both an honor and a great responsibility to be involved in a project of this magnitude at an early stage. I am sure that with my experience from Formula 1 and LMP projects I can forge good links between theory and practice.”
This is not Jani’s first involvement with the Volkswagen Group umbrella. He previously led Porsche in its debut season in Formula E alongside Andre Lotterer. Audi’s technical development boss, Oliver Hoffmann, emphasized the importance of simulation in their Formula 1 project, stating, “Our simulator is an important tool for the power unit development. It requires a development driver who in addition to a grasp of technology brings versatile experience to the project, especially in terms of energy management in racing conditions.”
Audi will enter Formula 1 as a full-fledged works team in 2026 as it completes its majority takeover of the Sauber outfit in Hinwil. Former Porsche LMP1 boss and McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl will lead the operation. James Key has recently been re-signed as technical director after being ousted by McLaren, following a thorough review of the Woking team’s design leadership structure overseen by Seidl’s replacement, Andrea Stella.
Adam Baker, the chief executive of Audi Formula Racing, highlighted the company’s focus on fundamental concept questions with high performance relevance. He emphasized the importance of combining digital methods with know-how, experience, and practical development to draw the right conclusions from simulations. This approach allows Audi to assess various operating strategies and pave the way for efficient energy management of the power unit.