Mika Hakkinen believes that Audi's planned entry into Formula 1 will become a 'significant' moment for the sport.
During the Belgian GP weekend, it was confirmed that Audi will be entering Formula 1 as a Power Unit supplier from the 2026 season.
They are also expected to be investing in a current F1 team, although details on this are yet to be announced.
Audi are one of the most successful manufacturers in motorsport, having won championships in the World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, Formula E and DTM, among others.
Since the start of the turbo-hybrid era, only Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari have been able to stake a claim for being a regular F1 race-winner, with all three becoming 'works' Power Unit supplier teams.
Two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen is optimistic that the addition of Audi can create more competition to the established front three teams.
“Formula 1 is getting stronger and stronger and Audi’s decision to join the World Championship in 2026 is a really significant moment,” he said in his column for Unibet.
“Although they have only announced an engine programme to start with, I understand they plan to partner with, or buy, a team, placing Audi in direct competition with the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. It’s going to be fantastic to see."
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Audi's introduction the result of 'brilliant work' by F1
Audi's planned entry season of 2026 coincides with the introduction of new Power Unit regulations, which will be more efficient and run with sustainable fuels, development which is very likely to be of interest to car manufacturers.
Hakkinen believed that the new technical regulations, along with F1's increasing fanbase, have made the sport 'attractive' for manufacturers, and praised F1 for enticing such a lucrative addition.
“I see this as a result of the great work Formula 1 has done in recent years, growing the popularity of the sport through series like Drive to Survive on Netflix, the growth of social media and work which has been done to improve the competition," added Hakkinen.
“The 2026 engine regulations are also attractive because the engines will have almost half their power from electric energy and we will see fossil fuels replaced by green, sustainable fuel.
"Clearly this is attractive to a large car manufacturer like Audi, a brilliant piece of work by F1 and the FIA.”
F1 podcast: Could Honda stay with Red Bull beyond 2025?
As Max Verstappen took a dominant win in the Belgian Grand Prix, plenty of attention remains on off-track matters, with Audi confirming their 2026 arrival into F1, and question marks remaining over the involvement of Porsche and Honda.
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the key topics from the Belgium Grand Prix.