Jordan: Audi facing ‘uphill battle’ in F1 regardless of driver

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Ex-F1 team owner Eddie Jordan has warned Audi that it will be facing an “uphill battle” when it enters Formula 1 in 2026, even with a driver of the status of Carlos Sainz in its line-up.

Sainz is rumored to be at the top of Audi’s list of potential drivers to spearhead its efforts as a works team when it arrives on the grid in two years’ time.

And the probability of the Spaniard joining the Audi-Sauber partnership in the future has only increased with the recent news of Lewis Hamilton’s transfer to Ferrari as Sainz’s replacement from 2025.

While not dismissing Audi's potential entirely, Jordan encourages Sainz to approach the venture with cautious optimism and a clear understanding of the long road ahead.

He cites the underwhelming past performances in F1 of Toyota and BMW as cautionary examples of big manufacturers that struggled to find their footing in the sport despite significant resources and expertise.

Building a competitive car from scratch, integrating into the established F1 ecosystem, and attracting top talent are crucial hurdles Audi needs to overcome.

“Everyone thought that Toyota with all the money and with all the expertise and everything that they could do, and that Honda had pulled out, so therefore there was a clear path for them,” Jordan said, speaking to David Coulthard on the latter’s Formula for Success podcast.

“They were shocking, miserable. It was a real poor effort that Toyota did in Formula 1, and they scurried well out of it and they haven’t come back.

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“The same, you could say, happened with BMW. I mean, [Robert] Kubica won a race, the quality of their engine at BMW is, for me, the best engine in the world, in terms of a road car basis, I just think it’s so strong and so good.

“But I would have thought that BMW and Toyota would come in with a huge bang.

“So therefore, you’re assuming that Audi are going to come back, just because they’ve won some various things in Le Mans and stuff like that.

“Now, I know, Allan McNish, who is a very close friend of yours, we both love Allan and we wish him every success, whatever he’s doing there, and he is so smart, he will make sure that he has the right people around him.

“But I don’t care what anyone says, it’s a five-year plan to get Audi to even get close to winning a race, and I don’t care what driver they have in it.

“There’s a massive learning curve. I learned that, I realised how tough it was and I think that Audi, despite all the money that they’ve got, they have an uphill battle.”

Adding to his point about the hurdles for newcomers, Jordan also pointed to Red Bull, arguably the most dominant team in F1 today.

Despite their current success, it took the Milton Keynes-based outfit five long years after acquiring Jaguar in 2004 to finally claim their first victory.

“Red Bull, let’s not forget, they had people like you there to help them along,” Jordan continued while addressing Coulthard, who ended his F1 career with Red Bull in 2008.

“They took over, if you like, the coals or the fire or the embryo of Jaguar, which was not a poor team, they were a strong team.

“Therefore, even them taking five years, and you know what money that Dietrich Mateschitz threw into that programme – and he acquired the best people.

“If you’re telling me Audi can come in and beat McLaren and come in and beat the likes of even Aston Martin perhaps, or Ferrari for that matter? Or anyone else? It’s going to be a big struggle.”

Jordan’s comments emphasize the daunting task Audi faces in reaching success in F1, highlighting the crucial element of patience in establishing a championship-winning force.

“Look, it doesn’t happen that easy. I think there’s only six teams in the last 30 years that have won multiple Grands Prix, so that kind of makes it very concise, doesn’t it?

“It gives a big lead if you like to somebody like Red Bull and Ferrari and McLaren, Williams have to come back and who knows? They probably will come back.

“But you know, even when Prost came with the Peugeot originally and then afterwards with the Renault. I just think new teams on the way trying to compete against the existing teams, it’s a hard job.”

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