While waiting for its debut in 2026, Audi continues to work behind the scenes, seeking highly experienced and technically knowledgeable individuals to ensure its preparedness for the historic first season in Formula 1. Since November, John Sutton, a British technician with a significant past at Williams, Ferrari, and especially McLaren, has been operational in Neuburg in the role of Head of Transmission Development.
Audi relies on John Sutton’s experience
Entering Formula 1 with Williams back in 1988 as a senior engineer, Sutton held the position of Head of Transmissions for the British team until 1999, playing a crucial role in the success of the FW14-B. This historic car, equipped with an active differential, allowed Nigel Mansell to clinch the World Championship with ease in 1992.
The English technician then moved to Maranello in August 1999, serving in the same role for three years in the Ferrari sporting department. He contributed to the development of a lightweight gearbox that enabled Michael Schumacher to dominate the early 2000s.
In 2002, John Sutton began his extensive tenure at McLaren, working for five years as Principal Designer and contributing to the development of the first instant-shift gearbox and dual-clutch transmission.
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Among other responsibilities, he also played a crucial role in the development of the KERS system in 2009, even though the car of that season turned out to be a flop.
In November 2014, John Sutton left the Formula 1 division to move to the automotive sector, working as Chief Design Engineer from 2018 to December 2020. After spending two years as a consultant, the former McLaren employee decided a few months ago to join the Audi project, once again overseeing the transmission department.
This is a highly significant addition for the four-ring brand, with the new CEO Dollner recently reiterating Audi’s strong commitment to the Formula 1 project: “There is a clear decision from the management board and supervisory boards of Audi and Volkswagen, envisioning Audi’s entry into Formula 1 in 2026. The plan is underway.”