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F1: Audi confirm plans to join F1 in 2026

After months of speculation, Audi has finally confirmed its plans to enter Formula 1 from the 2026 campaign.

Friday's announcement has dominated the paddock as F1 teams prepare for practice at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix.

There have been suggestions that the F1 calendar will not return to the iconic Belgian circuit, but the attention has now switched to Audi after their revelation.

Audi yet to reveal their intentions

Chairman of the Audi board, Markus Duesmann, confirmed on Friday that they had officially registered as a power-unit manufacturer in F1.

In a statement, he said: "If you think about Le Mans, DTM and Formula E, we have always been very active and very successful. We want to continue this success story in F1."

As one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, the news will give fans a huge lift, but Audi have yet to confirm if they will supply engines or if they will run their own team.

They plan to make further announcements before the end of the campaign, but rumours are already rife amongst those in the paddock.

Alfa Romeo on the way out?

Audi's introduction into F1 is no surprise considering the months of speculation.

The latest rumours suggest Audi will take over the Swiss-based Sauber team, which are currently running as Alfa Romeo.

They have endured a mixed campaign so far, but they will be happy with sixth place in the Constructors' Championship after the first 13 races. Haas, AlphaTauri, Aston Martin and Williams are all behind them in the pecking order.

After Friday's announcement, Alfa Romeo's parent company, Stellantis, confirmed they would end their partnership with Sauber ahead of the 2023 season.

Audi's decision to enter the sport comes at a time when fully sustainable fuels are to be used in 2026.

F1 president Stefano Domenicali believes the announcement proves that the sport continues to grow on a global scale and says he is excited by Audi's plans for the next four years.

He added: "It is also a big recognition that our move to sustainably-fuelled hybrid engines in 2026 is a future solution for the automotive sector. We are all looking forward to seeing the Audi logo on the grid and will be hearing further details from them on their plans in due course."

F1 will continue with 1.6-litre turbo hybrid engines during the 2026 campaign, but there will be significant changes from those used since 2014.

More than 50 per cent of the overall power will come from the hybrid element and teams are already preparing themselves for another massive technological shift.

Porsche also plans to enter F1 in 2026 as they prepare to partner with Red Bull as an official engine supplier.

The fellow German outfit have yet to announce their decision, but like Audi, they could soon reveal their vision before the end of the 2022 F1 campaign.

Audi news overshadows Belgian grid changes

While most of the pre-race talk has centred around Audi's unveiling, there was some pretty big news to come ahead of Sunday's race.

Title rivals Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are to start from the back of the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix.

The Red Bull and Ferrari drivers are two of six drivers that are being penalised for using too many engine parts this season.

McLaren's Lando Norris, Alpine's Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo and Haas' Mick Schumacher are also set to be punished and the decision could give Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell every chance of victory.

With Leclerc and Verstappen now starting from the back, Hamilton is the 5/2 favourite to win for the first time this year, while Russell is available at 9/2.

Carlos Sainz can be backed at 11/4 to get the job done, while Verstappen is 7/2 to make his way through the field to win.

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