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Audi to join Formula 1 with car running on synthetic fuel

Germany’s Audi is joining Formula 1 in 2026 as the Volkswagen AG business bets it can bolster its brand by competing in the popular racing circuit

Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium: CEO of Formula One Group, Stefano Domenicali, FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Markus Duesmann and Audi Chief Development Officer, Oliver Hoffmann pose for a photograph on 26 August. (REUTERS)

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(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s Audi is joining Formula 1 in 2026 as the Volkswagen AG business bets it can bolster its brand by competing in the popular racing circuit.

Audi will build a dedicated Formula 1 power train at a facility in Neuburg, Germany, the carmaker said Friday. It will make a decision on which team to partner with by the end of the year.

Formula 1 intends to switch to cars running on synthetic fuel from 2026 as part of a plan to become carbon neutral by the end of the decade. The change in technology is a unique opportunity to start competing in the franchise that’s been dominated by Mercedes.

“Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA,” Chief Executive Officer Markus Duesmann said in a statement. “With the new rules, now is the right time for us to get involved.”

Also read: Can Formula One racing ever go carbon neutral?

Volkswagen’s supervisory board in April approved plans for Audi and the Porsche sports-car brand to potentially join the competition. Outgoing CEO Herbert Diess has said both businesses see Formula 1 as the most important lever to boost brand value, and pointed to the competition’s plans for expansion in China and the US.

Porsche has advanced a bid to join the competition after documents revealed last month detailed its plan to buy half of Red Bull Technology, which builds chassis for the Formula 1 team Oracle Red Bull Racing.

Audi and Porsche will develop separate power trains if they are both to race in Formula 1, Duesmann told reporters on Friday. Audi’s investment in the competition is “very long-term,” the executive said, adding that he hopes for the brand’s future team to feature a German driver.

(Updates with CEO comment in final paragraph.)

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Also read: After a break, F1 resumes at Spa with more twists and turns

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