Audi’s recently announced entry into the FIA Formula E Championship is not likely to have an impact on its factory LMP1 effort, which is not yet formally confirmed for next year, according to Audi Sport boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
The German manufacturer’s Formula E program, which will begin this season with increased involvement with Team Abt, prior to a factory-backed program for the 2017/2018 season, is expected to be Audi’s third factory program alongside its existing WEC and DTM efforts.
“It’s an additional project and is on a completely different level,” Ullrich told Sportscar365 during last weekend’s WEC Six Hours of Mexico round. “I hope that we can run these three programs but the decisions for the programs in the future has to be taken.
“There is no program committed for next year. It has to be done. As always, it would come in September-October-November.”
While Toyota’s LMP1 program has been confirmed through 2017, and the Japanese manufacturer working on a 2018 car, and Porsche’s WEC future secured for the long-term, only Audi has yet to formally gain approval from the board for a return to the top prototype ranks next year.
However, according to Ullrich, it’s more or less a formality, with its motorsports programs having always been on a year-to-year renewal basis.
“We’ve had this for six years now and it’s nothing new and nothing special,” he said. “To be concerned about, you never know. You always have to convince the board that the money you need to make the program fits well is what you get on return.
“This has to be discussed every year because the parameters from year to year change a little bit. You have to be sure you’re competitive with the rulebook and you have to be sure the budget is not moving upwards; it has to move downwards.
“You have to be more efficient every year. We were able to reduce last year already but that’s the way it has to go.”
As was the case this year, Audi is expected to run only two R18s in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, as part of the cost-savings initiative, which was brought upon the company last year during the VW emissions scandal.