Kurt Verlin
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Audi May Be Getting Ready to Enter Formula 1

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2017 Australian GP 1st Corner

The rules and regulations of Formula 1 are always a hot topic. New regulations force competitors to keep innovating and keep the series fresh. Oftentimes, however, they lead to a period of one team’s domination until other teams catch up, and those involved in drawing up the regulations may be motivated to change them to shuffle up the pecking order.

Regulation changes are also important because they have the potential to draw in new manufacturers. Most of them already want to compete in Formula 1, but may feel it is too economically unviable if they cannot perform well enough or if they cannot use the race cars as R&D platforms for their road cars.

Near the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season, Eddie Jordan—a well-connected F1 pundit and former team boss—announced with complete confidence that Volkswagen would enter the sport via Red Bull, which had at the time been facing a major engine supplier problem. Unhappy with its Renault power units and facing the possibility of having no engine supplier for 2016, Red Bull would run on Ferrari power until 2018, at which point Volkswagen would purchase the team, put an engine in the back and use it to promote one of its brands—presumably Audi.

Sadly, no one knows whether Jordan had been right. Dieselgate struck shortly thereafter and had such a deal truly been struck between Red Bull and Volkswagen, it became irrelevant, as the latter began cutting programs left and right to avoid hemorrhaging money—including the iconic and very successful Audi LMP1 program that had enjoyed 13 Le Mans wins since 2000.

2015 Audi R18 e-tron quattro

The Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 car at the 2015 Shanghai World Endurance Championship race
Photo: emperornie

It seems, though, that Volkswagen’s involvement in Formula 1 may have only been postponed, as the company will send an Audi representative to an upcoming meeting by the FIA to debate what the next engine formula might look like beyond 2021.

Unlike Mitsubishi, Volkswagen’s involvement in a diesel emissions scandal seems not to have affected its sales, as the automaker overtook Toyota as the best-selling brand in the world in 2016 (though Mitsu is looking to rebound as well in alliance with Nissan). Porsche even experienced its most profitable year ever.

If the future engine regulations seem appealing enough to Volkswagen we may very well see another major manufacturer compete in F1, which can only be good for competition and for the fans. At the very least, the very fact that an Audi rep is attending the talks shows their interest.

So…BMW next?

Source: Spox.com (German language)