Mercedes warned ‘Audi will be in direct competition’

Audi have confirmed that they'll be joining the F1 grid in 2026 as a power unit supplier.

Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen believes Audi will be an instant threat to the current frontrunners, with the German manufacturer having announced that they’ll be joining the championship in 2026 as an engine supplier.

Audi’s arrival into the sport is going to potentially see a new giant compete for race victories, with the company having already had a few digs at fellow German’s, the Mercedes F1 Team.

Mercedes are currently without competition from Germany, with the manufacturer being the only one from the country who is supplying power units.

Unlike Audi, Mercedes do of course have their own team; however, Audi are believed to be investing in a current F1 team, with Sauber the most likely destination.

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2026 will see Mercedes go up against Audi to produce the best power unit, in almost an inter-German rivalry.

It will provide brilliant excitement both on and off the circuit, in order to be deemed the best German manufacturer on the grid.

Hakkinen thinks Audi are going to be a real threat to the three ‘works’ teams, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing and Ferrari.

The Finn is expecting the highly successful manufacturer to be in “direct competition” with the ‘works’ sides, something which will be “fantastic to see”.

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“Formula 1 is getting stronger and stronger and Audi’s decision to join the World Championship in 2026 is a really significant moment,” he said in his column for Unibet.

“Although they have only announced an engine programme to start with, I understand they plan to partner with, or buy, a team, placing Audi in direct competition with the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. It’s going to be fantastic to see.”

Audi will join the championship in 2026, at a time when new power unit regulations will see the engines run on sustainable fuels whilst also being more efficient.

It means that the German’s have from now until 2026 to start preparing their power units, meaning they could be incredibly competitive from the get-go due to the time they have.

Hakkinen thinks the new power unit regulations will further increase the already rapidly growing fanbase, with the championship in his opinion, doing “great work”.

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“I see this as a result of the great work Formula 1 has done in recent years, growing the popularity of the sport through series like Drive to Survive on Netflix, the growth of social media and work which has been done to improve the competition,” added Hakkinen.

“The 2026 engine regulations are also attractive because the engines will have almost half their power from electric energy and we will see fossil fuels replaced by green, sustainable fuel.

“Clearly this is attractive to a large car manufacturer like Audi, a brilliant piece of work by F1 and the FIA.”