With Audi and Porsche poised to confirm their F1 entries for 2026 once new rules have been finalised, the focus has been on how the two German car manufacturers will secure their places on the grid.
While it is looking increasingly likely that Porsche will tie-up with Red Bull, and make use of the team’s new powertrains division, Audi’s route has not yet been finalised.
It is understood that it was in advanced talks with McLaren about a potential takeover, but sources suggest that those discussions have stalled with the two parties not in agreement over the deal progressing in a way that suits both parties.
But although the chances of a McLaren partnership appear to be fading, there remains other options that Audi is considering.
Williams is open to a manufacturer tie-up, while sources have indicated that talks have taken place with Aston Martin about a longer term partnership.
With Aston Martin’s progress in F1 having stalled since its rebranding at the start of last year, questions have already emerged about what it will take for the squad to challenge near the front as owner Lawrence Stroll desires.
An Audi partnership, either working together or as a complete buy-out, could offer the team the chance to secure a boost – or even offer Stroll a way out of F1 if the team has not made good enough progress.
Earlier this year, Aston Martin hinted that it was considering building its own powerunit for the 2026 rules – a project that would appear to be out of step with its current technical capabilities.
However, doing so in conjunction with a major manufacturer like Audi would be entirely logical in helping it get hold of the kind of budget and technical knowledge needed.
When approached by Motorsport.com regarding the speculation about an Audi partnership, Aston Martin stopped short of denying the possibility.
An Aston Martin spokesperson said: “We are happy with our current power unit partner Mercedes-Benz, to whom we are contracted for some years yet. Mercedes-Benz’s F1 power unit is a good one.
“We have no alternative plans at this time – however you should never say never in F1 and we are actively exploring options with our new strategic partner Aramco.”
A statement from Audi and Porsche on Thursday, following a board meeting, said that a final call about their entries to F1 would be made once the new regulations had been issued by the FIA.
It said: “We have not yet made a decision as we are currently in the final evaluation phase. At this point, the new regulations for 2026 and subsequent years are not yet available.
“These will set out far-reaching changes to make the sport more sustainable, which is a prerequisite for Audi’s possible entry.”
A significant complication of a potential deal is that one of Audi’s main German rivals, Mercedes-Benz, has a 20 percent shareholding in the Aston Martin road car company.