Analysis: The impact of Audi's WEC exit on its Formula E project

Audi's withdrawal from the World Endurance Championship will speed up the integration of personnel from its LMP1 programme to the Abt Formula E project

Analysis: The impact of Audi's WEC exit on its Formula E project

The German manufacturer announced in August it would add the electric single-seater series into its roster of factory programmes from the 2017/18 season.

It then delivered the shock announcement last month that it would leave the WEC at the end of the current season, at which point Audi DTM boss Dieter Gass will replace Wolfgang Ullrich as head of Audi Sport.

Gass told Autosport "there will be a lot of work to be done to sort out the aftermath of the end of the WEC" and revealed one element will be bringing staff who worked on the LMP1 R18 e-tron quattro into the FE fold sooner.

DIETER RENCKEN: Audi exit proves motorsport's future is electric

"I don't think there will be such a big change in terms of who, but how much," Gass told Autosport.

"We had the same faces and they were already looking into Formula E a little bit.

"Now they are able to commit full-time to Formula E.

"We'll be able to use a lot of work we have done for the WEC, with the hybrid and the MGU, so we'll be benefiting from that.

"And we'll increase the link to the R&D department of Audi and have the exchange we always had in the past with Le Mans and the road cars."

GARY WATKINS: Did Audi blur the truth about its WEC pullout?

Audi had already committed to providing greater financial and technical support for the 2016/17 FE campaign, but as FE powertrains are homologated no improvements can be made to the motor, inverter or gearbox in-season.

That limits what short-term impact any additional focus from Audi's side can have on the Abt team's performance, but Gass said it would help "within what you can do".

"We'll have to look at software development and things you can influence," he said, "but that was the plan anyway.

"[After] the decision to pull out of the WEC, I wouldn't expect too much of a visible difference from our side."

Abt sporting director Thomas Biermaier told Autosport the WEC withdrawal "may be positive for this season".

"We can make a step forward," he added. "We always received support from Audi on software and stuff like this, but the main work was done by us.

"More, or better, support is always positive."

Gass indicated Abt, which has had affiliations of various significance with Audi since 1996, will remain solely responsible the race team, stating "there's no reason from our side for major changes".

Abt has won six races in FE with Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi, though two of those were lost to post-race exclusions.

Despite running under the Abt Audi Sport banner, the German team has until now developed its powertrain entirely in conjunction with long-time technical partner Schaeffler.

Biermaier added: "This is what we love; we want to be responsible for the operations.

"We can be proud what we reached the first two seasons. It's not so bad for a small company."

shares
comments
Should Ferrari enter Formula E?

Previous article

Should Ferrari enter Formula E?

Next article

Formula E 'can change Donald Trump's mind' over climate change

Formula E 'can change Donald Trump's mind' over climate change
Load comments
Why Audi was right and wrong in Formula E's loophole row Plus

Why Audi was right and wrong in Formula E's loophole row

OPINION: With Audi's Formula E exit imminent, it had nothing to lose in London by attempting to vault Lucas di Grassi into the lead by pitting him under the safety car. Scorn directed at the team for putting glory before ethics should instead be pointed at a rulebook that allowed such a move in the first place

Formula E
Jul 27, 2021
Why Formula E's London return delivered anarchy in the UK Plus

Why Formula E's London return delivered anarchy in the UK

Formula E landed for a London E-Prix for the first time since 2016, at the indoor-outdoor circuit around the ExCeL. Featuring the birth of renewed title pushes, a long-awaited maiden win and the second race's controversy, the round proved to be an exhibition of the electric series' anarchic nature

Formula E
Jul 26, 2021
Why consistency can't be relied upon for Formula E title success Plus

Why consistency can't be relied upon for Formula E title success

It's commonly upheld as the most straightforward method of racking up titles. But, due to the unique qualifying format used in Formula E, a consistent approach can actively work against a driver and make their life harder in races. So with four races to go, is now the time to ditch the tried-and-tested approach for a win-or-bust mentality?

Formula E
Jul 23, 2021
How Bird's crash recovery became Formula E's fairytale of New York Plus

How Bird's crash recovery became Formula E's fairytale of New York

After crashing in practice during the opening session at the New York City E-Prix, Sam Bird immediately had a recovery job on his hands. But the Jaguar driver rose through the order and secured victory in the second race - and with it, the championship lead. Here's how an Englishman in New York became top of the heap

Formula E
Jul 12, 2021
Why Formula E is plotting a major change of philosophy Plus

Why Formula E is plotting a major change of philosophy

Formula E has become famed for its unpredictability, which can yield exciting races - but it can be argued that it robs the all-electric championship of a clear narrative and doesn't adequately reward the best drivers. The series wants to change that, and renew its philosophy ahead of the introduction of its next-generation car

Formula E
Jun 29, 2021
How Puebla's high-altitude encounter gave Formula E's new leader breathing space Plus

How Puebla's high-altitude encounter gave Formula E's new leader breathing space

With the usual Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez venue unavailable to Formula E, it visited the little Puebla circuit to keep its foot in the door in Mexico. A near-winner two years ago, Pascal Wehrlein looked in swaggering form throughout the weekend - but a breathless final encounter helped put Edoardo Mortara in the driving seat

Formula E
Jun 21, 2021
The half-term report cards of each Formula E team in 2020-21 Plus

The half-term report cards of each Formula E team in 2020-21

In an eventful Formula E season, punctuated by rain and energy-conservation controversy, the 12 teams contesting the championship have endured many challenges in the opening seven races. Here's how they've got on across the first half of the season.

Formula E
May 26, 2021
How Formula E stood up to F1 comparisons in Monaco Plus

How Formula E stood up to F1 comparisons in Monaco

OPINION: It was no surprise to anybody that the laptimes achieved by Formula E cars on the full Monaco circuit were much slower than Formula 1. But perhaps the more relevant comparison was in the racing spectacle, where FE delivered in spades

Formula E
May 12, 2021