Audi to enter Formula E as manufacturer
Audi will be the first German car manufacturer to race in Formula E by taking over ABT Sportsline’s place on the grid. The Allgäu-based team has been successfully present in Formula E since the electric racing series’ inception and in the future will be taking care of the Audi race cars as the fielding team. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler will start the fourth Formula E season in Hong Kong on 2 December.
Audi has been giving its name to the team since Formula E’s inaugural season in 2014 and in the Brazilian Lucas di Grassi providing one of its factory drivers to date. In addition, the Allgäu-based squad has been able to use the infrastructure of the Competence Centre Motorsport in Neuburg.
For the 2016/2017 season, Audi intensified the partnership in the form of financial and technical support. Now, on taking over ABT Sportsline’s entry slot, the final step has been made toward a full-fledged factory commitment which will then be under the team name of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.
“We’ve been supporting the Formula E commitment with increasing intensity in recent months – on the race days, in the development of the new powertrain and in numerous off-track activities as well,” says Dr Peter Mertens, Member of the Board of Management, Technical Development, Audi. “That Audi will be the first German car manufacturer to be actively involved in the racing series starting next season is also a clear commitment of our brand to electric mobility, on the race track as of December and next year on the road as well with the new Audi e-tron.”
“Formula E delivers spectacular motorsport in the hearts of fascinating cities and is a tremendous stage to present electric mobility and motorsport in their most emotive forms,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “We’re currently seeing an extremely exciting season with a gripping title race. I’m happy that now everything has been put on track for a successful future too.”
Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport with its drivers Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi has clinched 23 podium places, including five victories, in the 29 races held to date and is the current runner-up in the championship. “We’re proud that as one of the founding members we’ve added a chapter to motorsport’s history books,” says team owner Hans-Jürgen Abt. “Within the space of just a few years, Formula E has seen such a strong development that a team can no longer be competitive without the backing of a car manufacturer. That’s why we’re gladly handing over the reins to Audi – a partner we’ve been successfully cooperating with in motorsport and routine business for many decades. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to continue this success story in Formula E as well.”
Together with official technology partner Schaeffler, Audi is currently in the process of developing the new powertrain to be fielded next season. “We’ve already successfully completed tests with the new components in Spain and in Neuburg and our project is on schedule,” says Gass. At the moment, the freedom in Formula E granted to all manufacturers is limited to the motor, transmission, the respective suspension components and to software. “The competitiveness in Formula E between manufacturers, teams and drivers is enormous. That makes details in the development all the more crucial.”