Audi has recruited former Red Bull tester and sportscar veteran Neel Jani to become its simulator driver for powertrain development.
Audi will enter Formula 1 in 2026 when it becomes the strategic partner of Sauber Motorsport under new power unit regulations.
The company hopes to have a mule car in action in 2025 and is striving to have a prototype power unit running on its dyno by the end of 2023.
Jani was affiliated with Red Bull’s Formula 1 team in the late 2000s, winning races in the GP2 Series and A1GP, before embarking on a lengthy and successful career in sportscars.
Jani was part of the Le Mans-winning entry for Porsche in 2016 and also competed for the manufacturer in Formula E.
“I am delighted to accompany Audi on their way into Formula 1,” said Jani, 39.
“It is both an honour 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.”
Audi will be one of six power unit manufacturers when revised regulations are introduced, along with Red Bull Powertrains-Ford, Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine and Honda.
“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,” said Audi chief Oliver Hoffmann.
“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.”