Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Neel Jani Joins Audi as Simulator Driver for Development of Formula 1 Power Unit

Neel Jani has been signed by Audi as a simulator driver for the development of their Formula 1 power unit. With his extensive experience in various motorsport programs, Jani will play a crucial role in supporting the development of Audi’s power unit, focusing on concept work and energy management. In parallel, Audi is updating its dynamic driving simulator at the Neuburg site to aid in the development of the Formula 1 hybrid powertrain as they get set to return to Formula 1 in 2026.

Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development of AUDI AG, emphasized the significance of simulation in Audi’s Formula 1 project, stating, “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’s background includes being a former test and reserve driver at Red Bull Racing, where he spent numerous hours in a Formula 1 simulator. He also gained valuable experience in a hybrid race car as a race driver in endurance racing, winning the FIA World Endurance Championship and the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans as a member of the Porsche factory team.

Jani expressed his excitement about joining Audi in their Formula 1 endeavor, stating, “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.”

Audi’s development of the power unit has been progressing, with testing of a one-cylinder engine yielding valuable results since the end of 2022. The current phase focuses on fundamental concept questions that are performance-related and lays the groundwork for the power unit’s performance in 2026 when the new regulations will increase electrification. The electric motor (MGU-K) is expected to deliver nearly the same output as the internal combustion engine, while the 1.6-liter turbo engines will be powered by sustainable synthetic fuel.

Adam Baker, CEO of Audi Formula Racing GmbH, highlighted the importance of combining digital methods with practical experience in evaluating technical solutions. He stated, “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.”

Audi aims to run the first hybrid power unit, consisting of the internal combustion engine, electric motor, battery, and control electronics, on the dyno before the end of the year. This milestone will provide the foundation for the future vehicle concept. Formula 1, with its open competition, serves as a technology driver for both electromobility and sustainable e-fuels, aligning with Audi’s commitment to advancing these areas. With Neel Jani on board as the simulator driver, Audi is further strengthening its Formula 1 project and positioning itself for success in the top echelon of motorsport.

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