Former Formula 1 driver Allan McNish says that the sport's new engine rules for 2026 make it an ideal time for Audi to enter the championship.
McNish is now the director of motorsport coordination for the Audi Group, and welcomes the changes that the sport has brought in to make it more appealing for new manufacturers to come on board.
Audi has already confirmed that it will be on the grid in 2026 in partnership with Sauber, which currently operates the Alfa Romeo squad.
As well as supplying engines, Audi will also take a majority shareholding in the Swiss-based operation.
“There’s always a point where all the stars align,” McNish told Motorsport.com at Autosport International this weekend. “That’s clearly the point now with the technical regulations, and it’s where the company is.
"With the base regulation change, that allows a good runway for preparations," he said of the 2026 rules placing a greater emphasis on electric power as well as sustainable fuels in pursuit of a carbon zero future for the sport.
“It is definitely exciting, everybody is buzzed about it," McNish said Audi's plans. "But at the same time there is a lot of work to be done between now and the real buzz, which is the first race.”
Although Audi's formal entry into F1 is still three seasons away, the company is busy expanding its facilities in Neuburg, Germany in preparation.
Last month saw Audi break ground on a new 3,000-square-metre building that will handle testing for their new power units, and recruitment is also picking up pace.
"There’s increasing personnel coming in, which is quite interesting and exciting,” McNish said. "Every day, there’s an email coming in with a new person and a new face, telling you what they’re doing.
“You can tell there’s real momentum behind it," he added. "That’s a really positive part. It’s a new project, it’s something that’s being built from the start up.
“That without doubt is a very good point for us," he added. "I think there’s a lot of smiles going on at the moment.”
However Audi's sister brand Porsche appears to have come to a dead end in its bit to enter F1 in partnership with Red Bull after talks between the two companies broke down last year.
Instead, it's been suggested that the Porsche name will initially be used to badge Audi's engines, but this remains speculation at this stage of the planning.
It's not known whether McNish will play a formal role in the new F1 team, although his experience in the sport as a driver will be an undeniable asset.
Previously the 53-year old Scot drove for the Toyota team in 2002 before moving on to sportscars where he picked up three 24 Hours of Le Mans victories with Audi.
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