Audi has applied to join Formula 1, and from 2026 the company intends to act as a factory project. How does this relate to MotoGP, and what does it mean for the future of Ducati?
Changing the rules of Formula 1 from 2026 opens the door for new participants. Of all the players, VAG was the most suitable for joining F1 – as a factory project of Audi Motorsport or Porsche. Porsche’s entry into Formula 1 is currently difficult due to problems with sponsorship and cooperation: in all other types of motorsport, Red Bull is associated with official Porsche projects, but now the manufacturer of power engineers and his own project in F1 are closely linked with Honda Racing. VAG admits that after the completion of the contract between HRC and Red Bull, the situation may change.
But Audi Motorsport is free of “history” and can start from scratch at any moment.
Today, the Ingolstadt project was officially presented at the Spa. The presentation was attended by FIA President Mohammed Bin Sulayem and Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali. Oliver Hoffmann, Director of Development at Audi, said that Formula 1 intends to make a significant technological breakthrough in 2026, and this is fully in line with the company’s plans. As an active participant with his own team, Audi will enter Formula 1 in 2026. The decision on whether it will be a 100% factory team or a client team will be made by the end of 2022. But already in 2023 Audi will join the Manufacturers’ Association and begin active development of its own platform, which should be 100% ready by 2025. Adam Baker will lead the project.
Those who keep their noses to the wind have already sensed the changes. Audi Motorsport is reducing the support program for client projects in the GT series and withdrawing from part of large projects. So, the recent news about the completion of the partnership with the WRT team did not go unnoticed. Of course! Valentino Rossi stands for this team, and the pilot and the team were brought together, of course, through VAG – after all, Audi and Ducati belong to this group… but this is not the only sign.
And Ducati in this way becomes a very interesting moment.
Rather, an interesting point will be the resources that VAG will have to shift from one pocket to another. Currently, amounts close to the expenses of Honda Racing are allocated annually to support Ducati Corse projects. No one has exact figures, but according to some estimates, the total budget of Borgo Panigale reaches 60 million euros annually, taking into account all pilot contracts.
Looking at the date – 2026 – it becomes clear that Ducati’s plans in MotoGP and Audi in Formula 1 are closely intertwined: it is in 2026 that the 5-year contract of the MotoGP Manufacturers Association with Dorna Sports ends – this time. Starting next year, Ducati enters a new history as the official supplier of the MotoE Electric Motorcycle Racing World Cup – that’s two. The big 8-year development cycle of the Desmosedici prototype is logically coming to an end, and today it is one of the best, if not the best in terms of the totality of indicators, the prototype in MotoGP is three. The Constructors’ Cup is in the hands of Ducati for the second year in a row. The title of champion in the individual competition can be issued in 2022 or 2023, which has been waiting for 15 years.
Isn’t this a hint: fat times for unlimited Ducati experiments are running out, or maybe it’s not time to do a MotoGP pen? In the traditional concept of this championship, of course.
Even Honda Racing can no longer afford to maintain two of its own factory projects in Formula 1 and MotoGP.