The German brand has announced it will ramp up its current technical partnership with long-time motorsport partner Team ABT for 2016/17 as a prelude to a fully-fledged factory programme for the 2017/18 season.
Although media speculation has repeatedly linked Audi with a Formula 1 entry for the last decade or more, the brand has continually denied any interest. The announcement of a works Formula E programme has finally shown where Audi thinks the future of open-wheel racing lies.
Audi’s long-time head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, highlighted the relevance of the electric racing series to road car development: “Audi has consistently been using motorsport to test and develop new technologies further for subsequent use in production. With quattro drive we revolutionised rally racing and subsequently set standards in circuit racing as well. In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi was the first manufacturer to have achieved victories with a TFSI engine, a TDI and a hybrid race car.
“Now we intend to repeat this in fully electric racing. Formula E with its races being held in the hearts of major cities is an ideal stage for this purpose and Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport a logical partner for us.”
Audi has provided financial and technical support to its partner Team ABT Schaeffler over the first two Formula E seasons, and its links with ABT in both touring car racing and road car modification go back many years.
The Formula E program is not expected to have any impact on Audi’s WEC or DTM programmes.