Just yesterday morning, I was working on a story that peripherally discussed what happened the last time Audi got involved in a major racing series in a very big way. That produced the decade-plus of dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the World Endurance Champion, where a brace of successive Audi prototypes with turbocharged diesel power laid waste to everything in sight. It was reminiscent of how, a couple of decades farther back, when the emergence of Audi’s quattro technology utterly transformed the top tier of global rallying, and made AWD viable for performance cars.
Audi stunned everybody last week by announcing its newest foray, into the star chamber of Formula 1 with an all-new engine and energy-recovery system – to say nothing of a new chassis – beginning in 2026. It makes infallible sense, given the number of new Audis that are sold each year in North America and the added fact that F1 is now a U.S.-owned entertainment property. Audi, you will note, is the descendant of several premium German cars that were formed into a single operating unit, including Auto Union, who traded Grand Prix domination with Mercedes-Benz during the 1930s. Which begs the question: When the Silver Arrows of yore return to the F1 arena, will they be clad in shades of charcoal and scarlet instead?