With news of Audi’s decision to not take part in Formula 1 any time soon, Williams has spoken out expressing disappointment – but is the news really negative or in fact positive, allowing Audi to concentrate their efforts on other areas of motorsport?
Claire Williams, Williams’ deputy team principal, says ‘It’s disappointing. This is a sport where we would like to have the likes of Audi in it. But they have other motorsport commitments. If F1 isn’t for them, it’s not for them. People have been trying to get Audi into F1 for decades and they haven’t changed their position.’
But with both the WEC and DTM already providing successful testbeds for Audi in their technological advancements, with a particular focus on hybrid and electric technology in the WEC, would Audi gain from entering F1 too?
Stefan Knirsch, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi AG, commented on the marque’s decision, saying: ‘F1 for Audi is absolutely not a topic. We are focusing on the World Endurance Championship and DTM. We want to win Le Mans in a championship where electric and hybrid technology plays a very major role, while we are in discussions with the DTM about when we can introduce this kind of technology.’
The Volkswagen Group’s Head of Motorsport, Wolfgang Durheimer, dismissed the idea of F1 entry when rumours arose, describing the sporting and political situation as ‘not predictable enough’ to justify Audi or any other Volkswagen Group brands entering, referring to how F1’s engine regulations are currently subject to change, with cost, performance, noise and supply of power units all in discussion.
Williams commented on this statement, saying ‘I don’t think we can blame it on the current political landscape of our sport, I’m sure there are lots of factors which come into their decision-making process as to why F1 isn’t for them.’
Commenting on F1 as a whole, Williams went on to say: ‘We’re lucky in this sport that we already have four of the world’s biggest manufacturers. Of course we want to attract more but we have Ferrari, Daimler, Honda and Renault competing. There’s a fine balance between independent teams being able to survive if the sport is flooded by manufacturers. We need a healthy mix of manufacturers and independent teams.’
Audi Sport has enough challenges ahead without F1 adding to the mix, it seems, with the last DTM warm up races at the Hockenheimring from 5 – 8 April and the series opener at the same track on 7 – 8 May – eight matte look Audi RS 5 DTM cars are ready and raring to go.
As for the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Silverstone on 17 April will see the first of the action, with the updated R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 ready to contest the title.
Audi may be staying away from F1, but there is still plenty of motorsport action to see, with the Bavarian brand right at the cutting-edge, ready to dominate the new season once again.