Audis silver arrows in Formula One history and links to Adolf Hitler

Audi's entry to Formula One is a story that is over 50 years in the making, with the Volkswagen Group confirming both they and sister company Porsche will be involved in F1 from 2026.

The pair will both enter in different circumstances, with Porsche widely understood to be aligning themselves as engine manufacturers for Red Bull whereas Audi are expected to take over an existing team and race under the banner of their four wings.

McLaren have been heavily touted for such a takeover, which would be an immense coup for Audi, but discussions are also understood to have held talks with Sauber, Aston Martin and Willams and, while it's Audi's first Formula One involvement, their history dates back prior to the first F1 season in 1950.

In the 1930's, Audi partnered with three other struggling German car companies to form Auto Union, DKW, Horch and Wanderer, which would serve as the basis for the famous four rings on the companies' current logo, with Auto Union, as well as Mercedes, sponsored by the German state as Adolf Hitler looked to showcase German engineering.

Those plans were announced at the 1933 Berlin Motor show by Hitler, then German chancellor, with a £20,000 annual stipend for Auto Union and Mercedes, which later climbed to £250,000, and marked the start of a period where the two teams dominated proceedings.

Dubbed the 'silver arrows', a moniker that is still retained by the current Mercedes team, the two cars shared the German racing colour of silver at a time long before liveries on the sides of cars – with British racing green, French in blue and Italy in red.

In the years prior to the dominance of the silver arrows, it was the French and Italian teams who enjoyed the most success but Hitler, keen to shown the strength of Germany and it's engineering power, provided the catalyst for the evolution into a German-dominated period that saw Mercedes and Auto Union scrap for the title.

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That period of dominance would last until the outbreak of World War Two and, unfortunately, Hitler's desire to showcase German engineering was likely orientated around his belief that Germany was superior – having peddled the same rhetoric with the hosting of the Olympics.

Volkswagen, now owners of Audi, have their own strong links to the fascist leader having been founded by Hitler in 1937, while during the course of WW2 they constructed vehicles for the German army using a 15,000-strong slave labour work force – with survivors filing a lawsuit against VW in 1998 that resulted in a restitution fund being set up.

The company was saved after WW2 by British officer Major Ivan Hirst, who persuaded his commanders of the potential and stopped the factory in modern-day Wolfsburg from being dismantled as part of war restitutions, as it was used for military production.

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