Audi hires Jani as simulator driver for F1 team

2023 F1 season

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Audi has made its first driver hiring for its new team which will enter Formula 1 in 2026.

Le Mans 24 Hour winner and World Endurance Champion Neel Jani has been named as Audi’s simulator driver for development of their 2026 power unit.

The German marque will compete in F1 for the first time when the series’ new power unit regulations come into effect in three years’ time. Sauber, which currently races as Alfa Romeo, will partner with Audi and become their factory outfit in the world championship.

Audi’s announcement is the latest step in their design and development of their 1.6-litre V6 turbo power unit after work on a specialist facility to produce their engine began at their Neuburg site.

Jani won the World Endurance Championship with Porsche in the LMP1 category in 2016 as well as that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours along with co-drivers Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb, famously taking the win on the final lap after the leading Toyota stopped on track with a failure.

Audi’s new hiring has extensive Formula 1 test and simulator experience, having acted at reserve driver at Red Bull. Jani also participated in every practice session for Toro Rosso in 2006.

Jani will help develop Audi’s F1 power unit for 2026
Audi’s member of the board of management for technical development, Oliver Hoffman, said that simulator work would be critical to developing their first ever F1 power train.

“Just like in production development, simulation plays a major role in our Formula 1 project,” said Hoffman. “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 said “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.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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4 comments on “Audi hires Jani as simulator driver for F1 team”

  1. Him out of all possible options despite having never raced in F1, although he has good general racing experience.

  2. how does a simulator driver help in engine development?

    I get setup and aero development, but how can it help with the engine?

  3. Jani was a test driver with Sauber in 2003.

    Establish good working relationships!

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