Last year Audi left the World Endurance Championship, a move that left many scratching their heads as Audi continually dominated the series. It was unclear what Audi’s motorsport division would do as, other than DTM and GTLM, Audi was left without a title racing series to promote. Recent reports by Germany’s Spox.com suggest that Audi will attend a meeting held by the FIA to discuss the future of Formula 1. Could Audi be contemplating entry?
While not a meeting about Audi coming on board, the discussion will focus on the future of engine regulations, currently a hotly contested subject in Formula 1. Currently, the FIA’s president Jean Todt has stated as long as he’s in control of the FIA, Formula 1 wouldn’t return to louder V-10s as many have expressed an interest in. But Audi’s presence at the meeting gives credence to the rumor that the company is contemplating fielding an entry in the motorsport as it would give Audi a chance to voice its opinion on the subject.
Previously, Audi and parent company, Volkswagen, have stated that the company wouldn’t field an entry in Formula 1 until rules and regulations are finalized and settled between the teams. But given that Formula 1 has new owners, Liberty Media, there could be a window of opportunity for Audi to enter Formula 1.
However, what’s unknown is whether Audi would field its own entry, or like Haas, Toro Rosso, and McLaren Honda, partner up with an existing team to help limit early costs. If Audi were to select such a partnership, a couple good options are available such as Sauber, Force India, or better yet, Red Bull, who appear to be looking for a new engine manufacturer.
As for the meeting itself, both Mercedes-AMG Petronas’ boss, Toto Wolf, and Red Bull chief Christian Horner feel that the current batch of engines and regulations that surround them need to be changed to produce better sound.
Speaking with AutoWeek, Wolf said, “If we look into a future generation of engines, I think in the past there wasn’t enough emphasis on the sound. So if we can combine great, affordable technology with a lot of horsepower and a good sound, that would really tick a box.” As for Horner, his comments are a bit less diplomatic, saying, “The best sounding car in Melbourne was a 12-year old Minardi that had the worst sounding engine then and was hopelessly uncompetitive.”
It’s unclear where Audi stands on this point, however, given the fact that the company still builds one of only two naturally aspirated V-10 supercars, the other being its Lamborghini cousin, we suspect Audi would be all for increasing the noise of the current crop of Formula 1 racecars.
Timing, though, remains an issue as the current batch of Formula 1 regulations aren’t up until 2020. This likely means that Audi wouldn’t field an entry until the 2021 season, giving it three years to test engines, test a chassis, and make sure the company brings a winning car right out of the gate. It will be interesting to see if Audi makes the commitment to Formula 1.