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Neel Jani

Audi announce first driver to join F1 team

Audi F1 has announced their first driver ahead of their 2026 entry

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Audi F1 has named their first driver signing, Neel Jani. The Swiss driver will be the team’s dedicated simulator driver.

Neel Jani pictured with fellow Swiss driver, Sebastien Buemi. Image Credit: Swiss Post/

Audi is currently preparing for their Formula 1 entry in 2026. As they are currently working on their new power unit, they have taken the “next step in development” by signing Neel Jani as a simulator driver. Jani, who hails from Switzerland, has competed and tested many different series. Those at Audi want to use this “versatile experience” to their advantage.

Oliver Hoffman, a board member of the Management for Technical Development of Audi, has stated that a simulator is a “powerful tool” in developing a new F1 powertrain. He also believes that having the right driver to work on it is important.

“Just like in production development, simulation plays a major role in our Formula 1 project. Our simulator is an important tool for the power unit development. It requires a development driver who in addition to a grasp of technology brings versatile experience to the project, especially in terms of energy management in racing conditions.”

Jani Himself

Neel Jani, in the Audi announcement, spoke about how it was an honour to be involved in the project.

“I am delighted to accompany Audi on their way into Formula 1. It is both an honor and a great responsibility to be involved in a project of this magnitude at an early stage. I am sure that with my experience from Formula 1 and LMP projects, I can forge good links between theory and practice.”

Impressively, Jani’s experience spans from racing and testing single-seaters to winning endurance races and eventually the 2016 World Endurance Championship. He also won the coveted 24 hours of Le Mans.

Audi’s Future

Adam Baker, the CEO of Audi Formula Racing, has shared that the group are still working in the concept stages, especially for the power unit.

“At the moment, we are mainly focused on fundamental concept questions with high relevance to performance. However, in evaluating various technical solutions we rely not only on digital methods. Know-how, experience and practically relevant development are indispensable elements of drawing the right conclusions from the simulation. With that combination, we can assess various operating strategies at an early stage and pave the way for efficient energy management of the power unit.”

Jani marks the first official ‘driver signing’ for Audi. As 2026 approaches, Audi will be hiring more and more people. Soon, many drivers will be vying for the coveted role to drive for Audi on the Formula 1 grid.

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