Some thoughts of F1 and Ingolstadt

The DTM world is not that exciting for the folk in Formula 1, but in recent days there have been some goings-on that could have some impact in Grand Prix racing. These relate to an incident a month ago when the DTM visited the Red Bull Ring. Mercedes driver Robert Wickens was running in sixth place and was busy blocking Audi’s Timo Scheider, in an effort to allow his own team-mate Pascal Wehrlein to catch up with them. Wickens then engineered a manoeuvre that resulted in Wehrlein being able to sneak through and pass both of them at the same time, leaving Scheider behind the two Mercs. At this point a voice came on Scheider’s radio and said “Schrieb ihn raus!”, which when translated from German means “Take him off!” The driver obeyed the order, presumably recognising the voice on the other end of the radio as being someone who should be obeyed. He duly bumped into Wickens and punted him into Wehrlein and the two Mercedes went off, Scheider took the place… However, this was rather an upsetting thing for Mercedes and there were duly complaints and the stewards investigated and it emerged that the words had been spoken by Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich. This was not cricket. Ullrich eventually confirmed that he had said the words, but used the unlikely defence that he was unaware that his radio was transmitting to the drivers and that he had said the words in a passionate moment, never for one minute ever dreaming that such a dastardly act would come to pass. It was a pretty lame defence and the stewards recognised this and passed the incident on to the DMSB, Germany’s national sporting authority, asking them to look into the behaviour of those involved. Audi was found guilty of “unsportsmanlike behaviour”, fined €200,000 and has had its manufacturer points from the race taken away. Scheider was banned from competing in the Moscow DTM race, while Ullrich has been banned from the DTM pitlane for the rest of the season.
So what does all of this have to do with Formula 1?
Well, on the surface, not a lot. Wehrlein is the blue-eyed boy at Mercedes and there is talk that he will go to a Mercedes-engined team in F1 next year, but this is not the point of interest.
Ullrich was 65 years old last week (and probably had a rotten birthday). Sixty-five is retirement age in lots of countries and the Red Bull Ring incident casts a dark shadow over the achievements during his 21 and a half years in charge of Audi Sport. This has included 13 Le Mans victories. Now, with a rampant Porsche in WEC, a new boss at the top of the Volkswagen Group, Audi’s sporting future is anything but settled. The departure of Ullrich – which would be entirely understandable in the circumstances – would open the way for new ideas and there are more than a few people at Audi who have watched the Mercedes efforts in F1 and think that their company should be in Grand Prix racing, reviving the old rivalry between Mercedes and AutoUnion (Audi’s forefather). If Ullrich is shovelled out of the way as a result of this faux pas in DTM, things could change in Ingolstadt.

Let us not forget that while all this is going on, Red Bull Racing is whining and griping about having to go on using Renault F1 engines for 2016. There is a contract in place, but it is clear that Red Bull does not think Renault is going to improve much next year and Dietrich Mateschitz is grumbling that F1 is no fun at all when you are not winning. Bernie Ecclestone and the suits who follow in his wake are worried that Red Bull might walk away and so is busy trying to talk Mercedes into giving Red Bull its race-winning engines. In the longer term that makes little sense. Some argue that the people who drink Red Bull will all instantly be convinced that Mercedes is cool and will hang up their skateboards, turn their caps the right way round and go and buy themselves a $75,000 Mercedes. The downside is a little more realistic. If someone sticks a Mercedes engine in a Red Bull, there is a serious worry that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg might get beaten and that would make whoever agreed to the deal look like a real drongo. Whereupon the Great Moustache from Stuttgart will descend, boots flailing, because it will obviously not have been his idea.

The option is for someone to sneak in to Audi and point out the patently obvious: there is a topline F1 team begging for engines, who will help finance engine development. Audi might like doing things in-house, but this is a gift horse and you don’t need to be a dentist to see the potential. Later on, when they have found their feet, perhaps they can launch an Audi factory team, but the key thing now would be to gain a foothold. Audi is certainly in a position to handle such a project. They have plenty of hybrid experience and it would be amazing if the company had not played around a little with some of the F1 ideas in recent years. They also have a chap called Stefano Domenicali working at Ingolstadt and he knows a thing or two about making F1 teams work. He has a very useful contact book and could easily manage an Audi F1 engine programme. Could it be done in time for 2017? Possibly… that rather depends on what machinery they have at Ingolstadt. It is the kind of brave move that a man close to retirement would not embark upon, but if the man close to retirement is no longer there and there is a 52-year-old Audi boss who might one day want to run the whole VW empire, one can see that nothing is impossible.

This is all speculation, of course, but someone in Ingolstadt must be thinking along these lines…

79 thoughts on “Some thoughts of F1 and Ingolstadt

  1. I think it would be sad if Dr Ullrich is forced out as a result of this incident. Whatever the truth behind what was said, what was heard, what was meant and what ultimately happened, the DTM has openly fanned the flames because the controversy is great for business.

    Toto Wolff is quoted in Autosport saying that he though the penalty for Dr Ullrich was “harsh” and praising the man’s integrity. Ullrich apologised to Mercedes-Benz afterwards for what had happened and Toto was pretty clear that he was happy to keep working with Ullrich in DTM matters.

    During his time as the head of Audi Sport, he has always appeared to be a man of integrity, certainly compared to many other team chiefs. He led the Audi bigwigs down to the Porsche garage to congratulate them on winning Le Mans even before the race had finished, and did the same when Peugeot won in 2009. He steadfastly refused to lodge an official complaint at Le Mans in 2011 when a lapped Peugeot repeatedly tried to run the leading Audi off the road and take it out of the race.

    He has run a phenomenally successful sports car program at Audi over a long period. Yes, they have had the largest budget over that time, but sustained success is still difficult. Ask McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams and others who have had plenty of money in F1 at times but been unable to maintain a dominant position. or ask Toyota, Honda and Jaguar, who had huge F1 budgets but failed miserably. Toyota’s current WEC squad is full of ex-F1 and Peugeot sports car folk and they are miles off the pace, and it’s not because of a lack of funds.

    Until this incident, I have only read and heard good things about him, and it would be a shame if his legacy to Audi was affected by this little bit of touring car nonsense.

    1. Be that as it may, if he did what he is supposed to have done, he’s hardly going to make it as Virgin Mary in the Christmas Panto.

  2. I assumed the whole “push him off” thing had been put to bed now? Maybe not. Certainly food for thought there. Much as I’ve always admired Dr U, that was a bloody stupid thing to utter.

  3. Interesting. Fingers crossed for this to happen. And I have to say another great post, we’ve been spoilt recently, keep up the good work, it’s much appreciated

  4. It seems to me that what Red Bull need is another deal with an engine manufacturer and not a deal as an engine customer to another F1 team, where the ‘works’ team gets upgrades first. To me, that means go and talk to Cosworth and then present a combined package to a car manufacturer who wants to punch well above their weight in motorsport – or not as Red Bull can well afford to pay for both Chassis and bespoke engine development themselves.

  5. This is all speculation, of course, but someone in Ingolstadt must be thinking along these lines… like when they hired a chap called Stefano Domenicali would be my guess or even before that when they thought about hiring him!

    Just makes no sense to have him on staff if they have never even looked at the possibility. Now what would be really funny is if Ron Dennis got in first and left RBR with the chocolate teapot Honda engine!

    Joe with all the hand wringing over the current Honda, people are talking as if Honda got it right first time with McLaren last time around as an engine supplier. But my recollection was Williams were the team that had to get all the wrinkles out of the Honda engine in 1984/5 when it was a tire eating beast of a power plant. McLaren got a well sorted engine, what four years later? So they never had the pain of the learning curve.

    Not that this is an excuse, but McLaren should have known what would happen because they were the guinea pigs with Mercedes, the engine from Brixworth was so bad to start of with that the did not call it a Merc until it really worked. It was an Illmor. Then you have the days with Peugeot as another example. McLaren should have known this year was going to be a bust…. or do you recall the early Honda-Williams and McLaren-Merc days differently?

    1. I’m also wondering why Audi could be expected to come and just become the benchmark and be a better option for RBR? I would think it’s more likely that they’d be lucky to match Renault, if the Honda situation is anything to go by. Granted they have more hybrid experience with the lmp but it’s completely different system isn’t it? And RBR isn’t really known for their patience when it isn’t working out…

    2. ” McLaren should have known this year was going to be a bust….”

      Who’s to say they didn’t know? They didn’t really have any other options!

    3. Like your 2nd para – wouldn’t surprised if Ron hasn’t already flow over. Audi and McLaren would be a good match, in the same way they were with Merc. Even funnier would be RBR making the Honda work. Could happen yet…. But aren’t you forgetting Mansell’s almost winning (lucky Prost) and Piquet’s actual championship! It was a rough deal though for Williams – what goes around comes around eh?

  6. On the flip side we’re seeing the trials Honda is going through and they spent a full year in development before entering the series. Where would that leave Red Bull? 2015 – 2018 uncompetitive? …. Maybe longer? And as I mentioned in the last blog reply, who needs the pentulant, ingrate, foot stomping attitude of Red Bull? Mercedes certainly don’t want to be playing second fiddle to their customers either. I’d love to see Audi/Auto Union back in F1….. Is Bernie considering Diesels? 😉

    1. In any case, who’s to say Audi aren’t already faffing about with an F1 engine somewhere? The techical regs are out there for all to read, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some manufacturers are already mucking around developing them in their spare time.

  7. Sounds cool. I’d wonder though whether Honda and Renault’s struggles along with Mercedes doing everything they can to stop them being able to catch up will put them off.

    Is it reasonable they could field even a remotely competitive engine in such a short time frame? Based on the current engine manufacturers it seems they’d need 3 seasons min to catch up (that’s about how Ferrari’s going in comparison with Merc and taking into account Merc improvements).

    Red Bull doesn’t strike me as a patient team player. Even powering them to 4 consecutive world championships seems to mean nothing.

  8. If your speculation is correct (and having read your work for some time now, I have an inkling there might be more to it than mere speculation, something that cannot be disclosed at this time) it would be a massive sea change for VAG. It would also be a huge coup for F1. All provided they hit the ground running with both the internal combustion unit and the electronic parts working properly – unlike Honda. Would be great if they lobbied to use their diesel technology. They would have to commit fully, though: I still remember Peugeot’s unfortunate foray into F1.

    On the other hand, I can’t imagine any engine manufacturer would want to be partners with Red Bull at this stage. Frankly, they’re doing the sport a disservice being graceless in victory as well as in defeat. That being said, Ferrari is rarely a paragon of grace and it has many fans.

  9. I’m getting all misty eyed at a possible renewed rivalry between Mercedes and the true Silver arrows… And if they call it Auto Union… Oh man. Wishful thinking, I know…

  10. By the sounds of it, and if Herr Ullrich is the man of such integrity as cited by others here, I would have hoped he’d have owned up as soon as possible, even unto very quickly attempting to tell Scheider not to do it. (where were the other pit-wall voices at the time too?)
    Passion is all very well on the pit wall, but undisguised ill-intent over an over comms channel smacks of the kind of win-at-all-costs attitude that led to Singapore 2008.

    1. I realise that others may not fully comprehend 13 le mans victories or understand seeing Dr Ullrich’s Sportsmanlike actions to congratulate others when beaten or see the sheer joy on his face during this year’s Silverstone Sportscar race when the Audi and Porsche are swapping the lead 4 times a lap for 30 minutes but to me, and many others who follow Sportscars he deserves a ‘Sportsmanship’ award, and I classify what Mercedes did in the DTM race as unsportsmanlike, therefore what’s the point of watching this supposed racing. I understand you are no lover of sportscars Joe but to write a man’s exemplary career off because of a passionate incident is pushing it a bit too far.

      1. Did I say I’m not a lover of sports cars? No. What I don’t like is the small group of people who cannot see beyond the end of their noses and think sports car racing is the greatest thing since the sugar cube and react unpleasantly when it is suggested otherwise. I like motor racing full stop.

        1. Joe, as per GP racing all I’ve seen is an Engineer actually be the intermediary between the driver and pits and Audi generally has these per car. Now in this case what we see is that the head of the team communicating with the driver and whilst I’m not here to defend Dr Ullrich’s passionate outburst or Audi’s radio control but I CAN see his defence. Of course, as the Boss if he actually meant the statement to be transmitted and to be actioned then that is indefensible and in this case I personally am not charging Dr Ullrich with intent although he’s been prosecuted for as you say, a faux pas, but I refuse to punt Dr Ullrich off from Audi’s Sports Management as I believe 13 Le Mans will mean a bit more than a faux pas.

      2. I don’t know Rickeeboy. Just as I am hugely impressed by the 90 races won and 7 championships won by Schumacher, that doesn’t mean that i also don’t recognize his Rascasse move for what it is, or his attempts to decide the championship in a less than sportmanship way in the 1990s.

        The same can be said for many others in motorsport (or even sports in general). It is fully possible to enjoy a sport with a tense competition while at the same time not glossing over its mistakes.

        And just as with all things people do, with more success and power, often comes the feeling that one is untouchable and can get away with things etc. all too often combined with being protected from the outside world and having a lack of internal criticism.

  11. Excellent article.
    I am pleased about the penalties given out by the DMSB over this incident.
    What had worried me is that this, “punt him attitude” would filter down to young kart racers.
    Let it be a warning that this is not tolerated.

    1. Absolutely true that youth take all the cues from the actions of “the pros” – in many sports. I’m with you on this one, pleased as well, great example of upholding the meaning of “sportsmanlike”.

  12. Nicely structured bit of speculation!

    But I can’t believe that Dr. Ullrich has been the impediment keeping Audi out of F1.

    How about Dr. Ullrich and Stefano as the Audi leadership team to entering F1, after which Dr U. can retire with a sizable feather in his cap and erase the memory/legacy of “take him off” from his considerable resume?

  13. It would be kind of entertaining to see Audi dealing with Red Bull Racing’s incessant whining and griping.

    Audi and the rest of V.A.G. have done very well without F1. Still, they might get involved at some level and at some point in the future – but not in 2017.

  14. With all the rumours 🙂 of cosworth having a new hybrid f1 engine on the drawing board, would it not make sense for red bull to pop down the road and speak to them? Then Audi can come along and help develop it as the cost of developing the engines is around 400million, which isnt cheap by any means.

  15. Red Bull-Audi, sounds great, that surely could be exploited in many ways, marketing wise.

    And Red Bulls unhappiness with Renault probably is a great opportunity to get involved now.

    But, Renault and Honda and Honda have proven how difficult it is to built a competitive modern age F1 engine.

    If you look at Mercedes, they had worked a long time with McLaren, bought Ilmor, then Brawn GP and have probably invested a lot of money after that to be as successful as they are now.

    And Mercedes are a one brand company, all their products are a Mercedes, even their trucks, whereas Audi is just a subsidiary of the VAG empire, so not all brands would profit from a probable success in F1, so expenditure to sales will not look as good…

    If Red Bull were to buy the Renault engine department, maybe in conjunction with Audi, both willing to invest and using the Audi know-how, that could work. And being an owner might also prevent Red Bulls from behaving like they do now towards Renault.

  16. Lots of interesting angles in this. Very good journalism job (again) of drawing the potential connection between the DTM incident and the F1 question. I imagine that there are divided camps within Audi over this. On the one hand, going head to head against the spiritual rival, Mercedes, had a lot of attraction. As fantastic as the WEC is today, the exposure of F1 is on another level in terms of marketing bang. Also, Porsche’s fast progress in the WEC must raise the question of why are these two VAG holdings competing against each other? The engineers say the intensity of the competition is really spurring development, but the marketing benefit is harder to see.

    On the flip side, Red Bull, as others have mentioned, seems to be a very unappreciative partner and it is difficult to see them having the patience to make this program work without trash talking Audi to the world’s media…

    Oh, as for Dr. Ulrich: It is a sad incident because I do think he has had a great career in many respects. However, what he did was a very serious miss-step and I think the penalties are correct.

  17. Herr Ullrich is far from the only reason and in fact is not even the real reason VW-Audi is keeping their noses out of the F1 money pit .

    The real reason(s) being VW-Audi is far too smart and far too fiscally responsible to ever stick their feet into the financial ‘ black hole ‘ that F1 has become . Factor in the ongoing reality that Daimler Benz’s board questions the viability of their involvement at each and every meeting due to the losses incurred not to mention BMW having set the diamond encrusted platinum standard for coming to their senses and then dramatically increasing their overall profits by leaps and bounds once they exited F1 and the chances of Audi even so much as sticking a decal onto a car or placing their badge on a motor manufactured by someone else is less than zero .

    Or to put it a little more bluntly . Just because Nissan/Renault hasn’t got the financial sense to at least not increase their involvement – just because the powers that be at Daimler Benz haven’t quite given in yet to the board and their investors and just because Honda was pretentious enough to think they’d march right in with bells on their toes doesn’t mean anyone else is foolish enough to get involved with the rapidly waning sport of F1 . Fact is Joe . F1 at present is unable to even attract title sponsors never mind manufactures the likes of VW-Audi

    1. I wouldn’t bee too sure of VWgroup (Audi/Porsche) being “too fiscally responsible”. Just look at the VW Phaeton and the glass palace they made in Dresden to build it for a good example.

      And I think that F1 is a huge success and far from a black hole for the ones like Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull who get huge PR value from it and with success have found it easier to have others (sponsors like Petronas, Shell, Marlborough, Infinity and others) field more and more of the bills.

      The trick is that you must find a way to success. But Audi would surely go in knowing/convinced that they have what it takes to get there just as Mercedes were able to get the Ex-BAR, Ex-Honda, Ex-Brawn outfit in its current shape, RBR took defunct Jaguar from also-ran to powerhouse and Renault have taken a targetless Bennetton to titles in the last decade.

    2. Is this right though? A lot of the costs will be offset by sponsorship and prize money. The engines have a good market of other buyers. They are winning currently so loads of good publicity and great places to take contacts. There is a basic level of advertising which has no direct return in the same way. Would Toto really sit on his 30% or so if he was not earning from it rather than contributing to losses? I think M-B are getting out of this a lot more than they put in.

  18. Aside the poor sportsmanship, and the intrigue over future engine partners etc. This is not the first incident in the DTM of this nature, and this style of behaviour, by both sets of drivers is why I am completely against customer teams in F1.

    MS’s 7 & SV’s 4 F1 championships were diminished in my opinion in their lack of allowed competition from their team mates, imagine a championship with 6 or more Ferrari cars or even teams all lining up to ensure their no. 1 driver was the champion. Cue end of racing as we know it. Williams lost championships because they let their drivers fight, and we got great racing even if they lost the title. I stopped watching WTCC 2 years ago when Citroen imposed team orders at the first race of the season. Result – procession.

    Deliberately punting someone off is a reason to ban someone for life, engineering an overtake for a partner who can’t do it by themselves, demonstrates that neither are not worthy in the first place.

  19. In terms of Audi doing things in house, do you know how much involvement they have had with the Abt Audi Sport Formula E team? It appears they have gone with VW group rather than Audi this season, but Audi was a very clear name last season. Does this strengthen any possibility of dabbling with F1 technology or is this completely irrelevant?
    Many thanks joe!

  20. Once again you have proven why it is I love your ability to sort out and structure these complicated intricacies in a manner in which I can understand. With your history and knowledge of the business of Motorsport I can only help but agree with your arguments. Thank you for giving me this insight.
    ( sorry if this smacks of “tooting the preverbal horn” but this is the reason I love f1 and it’s ability to influence other formula and the tech that comes from it all)
    Thanks Joe
    Tao

  21. I am not sure that we really know what’s going on behind closed doors in Ingolstadt, but some signs might be pointed towards an F1 project, when they hired on that Italian chap – Stefano Domenical.

    It was also strange hearing from Dietrich that Audi should get into F1, normally he doesn’t say things like that, so more signs been pointed at Ingolstadt. It would not surprise me, to know that for the last 18 to 24 months they have secretly been running a F1 engine to see how it works, and how they can either improve it or adopt it for their own racing program in the WEC or there road car division.

    As Joe has said they do have a fair amount of experience with these sorts of engines, so would not be too far behind, with regards to the position that Honda has taken, plus I think they would if need be, hire in engineers from other engine companies to stream line the process, where as Honda has said no to none Japanese – re-Honda employees working on their F1 engine project. I think so far it is the biggest mistake that Honda has made, and all the pr-media speculation about how much power there unit has or doesn’t.

    Yes it would be good to See Audi in F1 and I think the company as a whole would benefit. The rivalry between them and Mercedes is well known, and that alone could boost sales, which is what F1 is all about, if you’re a manufacture.

  22. Nice use of the word drongo! Have you been catching up on your Neigbours viewing?

    If Red Bull think the Renault is frustrating, just wait until they have an engine supplier who’s starting completely from scratch. They can ask McLaren how it feels. They’d look like a bunch of flamin’ Galahs!

    1. No-one starts from scratch, except perhaps Japanese companies that don’t want to accept ideas they did not think of

  23. Joe – do you think the sticking point could be the way Honda have struggled with the token system? Ie if new entrants requirements are substantially relaxed, then that will give Audi a better chance?

  24. Fantastic piece, Joe. Love the way you try to get into the head of the thinkers at VW. Just so you know, I read every article that you ever write over here and I think they are all fantastic. Please continue to keep this blog going. And feel free to bury those who are rude and disrespectful.

  25. Audi are said to be developing an all-new car to compete in WEC from next season. Their annual WEC budget has been reported as something in the region of 250 million dollars. That indicates some level of commitment that would make a 2017 foray to F1 unlikely. Then of course F1’s hybrid system is a pretty big departure from the one that the R18 currently uses. Of course Porsche has made its F1-style small capacity, turbo-petrol hybrid work so well that Toyota are said to be switching to such a similar system next year. Audi could follow suit in order to keep up but how would it look for them to be doing what their rivals do?

    Ever since their Le Mans domination started they have been pretty gung ho about turbo-diesel hybrid power and its benefits for their road cars. Ditching that and going to F1 where success is not guaranteed and where there is huge potential for criticism looks unlikely. At least the way I am looking at it. I would love to see Audi in F1 personally and ever since Porsche announced their entry to WEC I always figured we would see them in grand prix racing sooner or later.

  26. I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated your perspectives in the last 2 articles; thanks!

    Obviously Ulrich’s radio message was really silly and he should have known better. I wonder if you have any insight into how common deliberate bumping other cars off is in series like DTM. It seems to happen a fair bit in V8’s in Aus, for example. I ask because I am interested how [extra]ordinary what Ulrich was calling for was, aside from it being a PR fail.

  27. Red Bull-Audi…”Vorsprung durch Wings”? Or will it be, “Red Bull gives you rings”? …oh oh, that doesn’t sound quite right!

  28. Interesting and if comes to pass quite exciting speculation.

    However it would take a very brave corporate person to push ahead with an f1 engine plan after the mess Honda have themselves in. Any brand new entry will have similar problems and if red bull are whinging now, then imagine what they would be like if they were lounging around with the mclarens.

    1. Would have to agree that even if Audi ‘hit the ground running’ – they would still need a season minimum to turn a half-decent baseline into a leading edge PU. I can’t see RBR tolerating another year of mediocrity (and conversely would Audi want to work with such an overly critical partner?).

  29. The speculation is perfect.

    I just think that with the current Mercedes engine domination, the downside far outweighs the potential upside of having an engine equal to the Merc, when they become frozen.

    Audi are 4 years behind the curve if they start tomorrow. It is a hell of a gap, and probably too great for RB to stick around with crossed fingers.

    1. The late arrivals have an advantage if they hire the right people. They don’t make the mistakes that the pioneers made.

      1. Obviously the Ulrich DTM comments were not proper, but, to give him the benefit of the doubt, ( as one should be regarded as innocent before proven guilty ), how many times have people here jumped off the sofa and shouted something similar over races where one guy is holding up another and there is no way past?? Do I hear the sound of breaking glass in the greenhouse??
        It is quite possible that the good Dr just got carried away, he is a racer after all not just a suit! However, I’m not totally exonerating him….now, if one checks the BTCC, it is always open house on snookering the other guy with a hefty shove, which is why I haven’t bothered to follow it since the Cleland days…
        As to Audi in F1….why ?? The VW Group is not struggling to sell vehicles of any kind, so why throw profit at F1…..not even a German GP Victory to crow about, they were able to make hay from their whitewash in the German WRC round the other week….that would not happen in F1, so what would they gain, a drubbing off MB?

          1. Ermm, guilty of the comment with an Open channel on his headset…..however Scheider made the move, it was in his hands what to do, so it is a bit grey rather than black or white imho. If his mike had been off it would only have been a personal rave at a racing situation…it doesn’t put him the Classroom with Flavio B!

  30. Perhaps Audi have been reading Sun Tzu – “Pick your battles – if a battle cannot be won, don’t fight it”.

      1. I agree with your view Joe, but on the other hand it’s not hard to imagine the finance people at Audi looking at the risk and ROI – you could probably set-up or buy a whole FE team (or possibly the whole series!) for what it would cost to enter F1 as an engine supplier and they would be looking hard at the risk and possible negative effects of ‘failure’ in F1. FE has nowhere near the marketing reach of F1 but that means that any struggles would be in front of a much larger audience. You only have to see the negative view of Honda that seems to be the most common rather than giving them credit for entering at all and making their progress in public. Would also want to add to that the winging of RBR? I for one hope Audi do come into F1 but then I don’t own or run Audi and it would not be me having to fall on my sword if they ‘fail’ …

          1. True – I see the financial press are reporting that car sales for the first six months of 2015 are up by +14.7% , although whether this has anything to do with their F1 success is another matter!

          2. …and Renault, Honda, McLaren et al?

            I get “win on Sunday sell on Monday”, but equally getting a drubbing every alternate week, must have negative connotations?

            I bet FOM’s ROI is much higher than Mercedes’s. They just never invest in the first place. They win; everyone else looses.

  31. Makes sense for Audi, but not with Red Bull. After this season, It would be difficult to imagine anyone wanting to work with them, Their realistic future appears to be an in-house engine, for better or worse. Most interestingly though, the rising blue-eyed boy of Mercedes actually also has brown-eyes. 🙂

  32. Interesting article…
    One thing seems to not be mentioned.. Whilst Dr U has accepted responsibility for saying what was said (He is the head honcho after all so the buck should stop with him…) but the video/commentary is delayed so does anybody know if Schieder actually queried the command..? or did he just assume it was an order…..

    Personally I’d also prefer Audi to stay in the WEC (or go back to the WRC) as that’s where they truly belong, even with their Auto Union history…

  33. “Whereupon the Great Moustache from Stuttgart will descend, boots flailing”

    And when I read this, there was great laughter.

    I hope this idea comes true, Joe.

  34. if you look at the Audi and Porsche entries at Le Man this year the two sets of technology dovetailed very nicely to cover pretty much any kind of technology required for hybrid powertrains and prottype racing of any kind. After all, le Mans is like compressing an F1 season into 24 hours. So both Audi and Porscha know about QC and reliability.
    Additionally it also put German suppliers in the driving seat (excuse the pun). Audi is currently using Williams to supply the flywheel KERS tech. Porsche though (amazingly) have just started to use a Bosch modular system that handles the whole power pack management and the hybrid energy generation. It is modular and thus can handle flywheel KERS or the Porsche Turbo generator method. A few years ago Bosch did not make this unit and thus Audi used Williams. Now Bosch also makes a flyuwheel KERS unit too. The Porsche turbo generator was developed by a former employee of…Red Bull F1, who has now returned to VW towers. Audi uses an Italian company to make the carbon tub but Porsche a newish to the industry, German company.
    Anyway, the question is not if Audi will enter F1 but if VW Motorsport GMBH will enter F1, using the Audi badge. Anyone thinking that Porsche and Audi develope their cars independently should take a look at VW’s management structure. If VW do, there is not doubt it will be an all German effort. Thus also embarrassing Merc who rely on British engineering and team to get them to the top, as well as a British driver (you can clearly see Totto’s disappointment when Hamilton wins). If team VW supply Red Bull, that would also be the best solution for them as it will be the Austrian company doing business, not with the French but a German company.
    I know this sounds off colour but it is how the Germans increasingly like to do business.
    Is this then another industry where the UK’s hard fought lead is handed on a plate to someone else?

  35. Rough thought on PUs and new providers – since engines became PUs there is a lot of bad stuff falling down onto F1, And no one involved has been helping anyhow to stop that crap keep falling. All those stupid penalties and tokens – how do you get new manufacturers interested to invest an awful lot of millinos to build PU for 3 years only for that to be frozen bit by bit in another 3 years? Where is the sence there?

  36. Does anyone who, like me, was at the Nürburgring at the weekend for the FIA WEC race believe that Audi would can an incredibly successful Endurance programme (and possibly the DTM will have to go too in order to cover the costs) to go to F1? The three-to-fourfold cost increase notwithstanding, any F1 programme would have significant marketing implications as neither the “Quattro” nor the “TDi” brands can be used as neither Diesel nor AWD are permitted. Add to that the four or five year lag in development behind Mercedes, the threat of Ferrari and Renault catching up, (coupled with the daft “token” system which more or less ensures that these three manufacturers who started developing their PUs long before this was implemented) will virtually ensure that Audi will be permanently propping up the back of the grid along with McHonda.
    Now that will have severe implications at the top of the VW board when they see €500+ million per year wasted on a ultra-expensive F1 car with no hope of getting anywhere near the front. Not only will the Audi brand which they have built up over 15 years be damaged, but there is the danger that they will become another Honda. Jaguar, Toyota and BMW stopped their F1 programmes when they saw that they were chucking money into Bernie’s Black Hole with very little return on investment,and I can envisage any Audi F1 programme going the same way after 5 years.

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