Allan McNish has described the scenes at Audi as "hectic" as they prepare for their entry to Formula 1 in 2026.
The German car maker announced their official entry for 2026 in October last year, confirming an agreement to take over the Sauber F1 team.
They are now currently on an extensive recruitment drive, with the former Le Mans and Audi Formula E Team Principal detailing what is happening behind the scenes.
“It's been a very busy last 18 months, certainly in 2022 it was pretty much hectic like I've never seen it before” he said on the Motorsport Magazine podcast.
“To think that 2026 is still quite a long way away, but it’s only around the corner. It’s 39 months until the first race, not that we’re counting!
"But being involved now for over 20 years with Audi, and this is part of that progression.
“It’s an exciting time and I don’t think there’s anybody within the company that’s not looking forward to that first race in 2026.”
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McNish notes differences with cost cap
Before competing with Audi in Le Mans, McNish drove for Toyota in F1 during the 2002 season.
He drew comparisons between the sportscar and F1 programmes, with the latter needing the same number of personnel "multiplied by three" due to the unlimited budgets at the time.
McNish added: “With Toyota, it was Le Mans and then jumping into F1, it was a completely different game, just in terms of the personnel having to multiply by three to be able to produce a Formula 1 programme.
“Now admittedly, that was 20 years ago, that’s when budgets were unlimited, that’s when engines were unlimited - you would use three engines through the course of a weekend, now you’re looking at that number over a season.
"What was very clear to me was when I moved from Toyota at the end of 2002 to Renault for the third driver, my first lap in the Renault around Barcelona was quicker than a qualifying lap in the Toyota.
"So the difference between the people that are fighting in the midfield, to where you're fighting for race victories is a huge gulf."
Video: How expensive is champagne in F1?
Although champagne has not been exclusively used on the podium, with F1 recently moving back to using sparkling wine, it forms a key part of post-race celebrations.
But what are the origins of this world-famous tradition? And with so many litres of this luxury drink sprayed throughout the season, how much money does such a champagne shower actually cost?
Check out our handy explainer video below.