Audi wins Sebring – will it ever enter F1?

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Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello, Audi R15 TDi, Sebring 12 Hours
Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello, Audi R15 TDi, Sebring 12 Hours

Audi’s staggering domination of international sports car racing continued this weekend as its new R15 won its first race in the Sebring 12 Hours.

Audi has systematically crushed its sports car rivals around the world this decade. The Sebring event has fallen to Audi nine times in the last ten years. They’ve won prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours eight times in the last nine years – and the 2003 race was won by the Audi R8C-based Bentley Speed 8.

It’s won the American Le Mans Series every year since 2000 and won its European equivalent last year as well, inflicting another bruising defeat on Peugeot.

The formidable Audi outfit clearly has little left to prove in the world of endurance racing. With the costs of entering F1 projected to fall in the near future, will it soon take up the challenge of squaring up against its domestic rivals Mercedes and BMW in F1 soon? I hope so…

Read more: It?s time for Audi to take the F1 bait

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 36 comments on “Audi wins Sebring – will it ever enter F1?”

    1. from a marketing and business perspective, it seems pointless to leave the existing racing and focus on f1, its great media to be winning all the time.

      they’d have to pony up the budget for a whole new team, facilities and all, wouldn’t be cheap, and on top of that, they risk not being competitive and tarnishing their dominating image.

      but IMO they should get into f1, their main consumer rivals are (bmw & merc), maybe buy their way into williams or another existing outfit… could buy out STR – they’re looking to sell…

      1. Would like it, but don’t see it happening. As Todd says, there’s no real benefit for Audi in moving to F1 unless it did run both at the same time and it’s hardly the right time for that.

        Perhaps Porsche instead? ;)

    2. Ill put it like this…

      I hope so too……

      would be great to see Audi in F1, I reckon they’d do quite well like BMW

    3. Sorry for the double, but maybe there are number of brands in the VW stable that could get involved. Bugatti, of course, has F1 pedigree (as a brand), so if the group were to get involved perhaps it would do it like that…

    4. i thought of audi f1 aaages ago! would be great if they did enter….come on, they cant be short of money… go on audi! enter for the 2010 season along with USF1, then there would be 24 cars on the grid! i think they would do well…like sorta bmw standard i imagine.

    5. The reason they do not enter F1 is simple – they will be uncompetitive and will loose image in the eyes of those that value them highly.

      1. Do you think they stay in sportscars because they like being a big fish in a small pond?

      2. That is certainly the reason why they blocked Porsches entry to LMP1 in 2000. They (VAG) didn’t want it’s ally to compete with them in the LMS.

    6. Perhaps the best way into F1 for audi would be as an engine supplier – or as todd says above, to buy into an existing outfit (isn’t there already a connection between STR and VW..??)

      That said, I’m actually looking forward to seeing more independent teams on the grid, not more manufacturers…

    7. I wouldn’t put it that way. The f1 technology has gone too far for a newcomer (no mater who they are) to be able to catch up quickly (may be at all).
      Audi have dominated the American Lemans, but who were they racing against? I don’t remember anyone else in the LMP1 class. This year there is Acura for the first time and in their first race they got the pole. They claim the Acura was the best handling car and was leading untill reliability issues appeared. Those issues will be sorted. Lets just wait and see what happens this season.

      1. Acura is there since last season. And they’re no match for Audi, they got the pole thanks to the right set up and were behind very early in the race (and not because any car problem). Audi one real rival remains Peugeot, which actually has a faster car but is no match for Audi when it comes to menage a endurance race.

      2. Acura was in the LMP2 catagory last year. 2009 is their first year in LMP1 with their ARX-02a.

        and the reason why Acura is so far behind in race is because they are using a petrol engine, and due to the rules the petrol cars are no match aganist the diesel.

    8. I think Audi has never previously been convinced of the need to field an F1 team. It’s been steamrollering the opposition in sportcars for the best part of a decade and gets a lot of coverage against Mercedes in the DTM. Both of these programmes would have to be ditched to mount a proper F1 attack. Sportscars are less of an issue but the DTM would effectively collapse if Audi pulled out, which could have serious implications for the company’s standing in its domestic market.

      The proposed budget cap regulations might convince Audi that F1 is now better value for money – but Audi could well take the view that it’s better off showcasing its high technology products in sportscars rather than a lower tech F1.

    9. I think we all would love to see Audi in F1, even as just an engine supplier. However, if Bernie and Max manage to dilute and devalue the sport as much as they are planning, then we might just get a few F1 teams joining Audi in sports car racing and leaving F1 behind.

    10. Whilst Audi’s stunning performances in sportscar racing are fantastic promotion for the road car brand, the exposure and public awareness just isn’t in the same league as Formula 1. Added to that, as impressive as their results have been over the last decade, they’ve not been us against as many road car manufacturers during this time as there are currently (or at least, have been recently) in F1.

      I think making the jump would be great for them. Success wouldn’t come immediately but in the long term it would be great to prove themselves against Mercedes and BMW. I hope they give it a go.

      VW have long been rumoured to want to get into F1 but never did because of costs. Out of Audi and VW, I’m not sure which brand VAG would enter under- maybe we’ll get Skoda F1 instead :)

    11. As for Audi and DTM:
      “In the past, Audi had used a V8 engine in the series with the original Audi V8 quattro, but had opted for a highly tuned V8 which Audi had no resources for. So Honda was contacted; at the time they had been using V8s in Indy Racing League (IRL). Audi wanted a similar package in performance and reliability, so Honda and Mugen (M-Tec) got together and decided to let Audi use the Mugen/Honda MF308 V8 engine[18]. The only improvements made to the racing engine by Audi was shaving weight off the crankshaft since the engine had already been designed from the ground up. Audi Sport prepped tested/implemented/approved and raced the engine in 2004, which produced 460 bhp (343 kW; 466 PS) and over 500 N·m (370 ft·lbf) of torque in 4.0 litre trim, and has been a mainstay in Audi’s DTM programme.”

      — Racecar Engineering Oct 2007 DTM: Worlds Closest Racing Saloon Series

      There is a long way for Audi to go from their high-tech endeavors to the low-tech f1.

    12. Well Done Bourdais. I good 2nd place despite the puncture!

      1. absolutely! i wish more of today’s drivers would take on challenges like montoya, boudais and franchitti have.

    13. IMO,

      Audi has made its market on Sportscar Racing. A jump to F1 (especilay in this time) would not make a good busness scince. I dont think F1 rules are appealing to Audi either. At this time I think that AMLS/Le Mans gives manufactures more room to play. From Tire, Fuel, Fan enteraction. I see Audi being to restricted in F1 for it to apeal to them.

    14. As great as Audi’s achievements have been in endurance prototypes, I can’t see them making any move to F1. The R15 has been 2 years in development, it’s a whole new car from the ground up, and it managed to win it’s first race: outstanding? Yes. Costly? Enormously. All that R&D budget, design and manufacture cost, testing etc etc etc and it’s only going racing twice this year. Sebring and Le Mans. Audi racing have only been given the budget to race their Flagship Car twice in one year. I find it highly unlikely they’ll start pouring money into a series they have no experience in purely on the basis they can build an all conquering endurance racer. Especially considering the current state of the car industry as a whole.

    15. Audi will not enter F1 for two simple reasons; Bernie and Max.

      Why would a prestigious car manufacturer get involved with a sport run by a tyrannical sexual deviate and aging sycophant who change the rules for the series with whatever whim seems to strike them at the moment?

    16. I see the “we’re bored with winning let’s do something new argument for them, and joining F1,” but,,,

      Audi has done some clever things,
      1.They’ve marketed a sportscar pedigree (go to an F1, Nascar, Indy, race, now count the audi owners), now go to a Tin top or sports car event. The Audi lovers are there in droves! They and the Porsche followers have their own series for all intents and purposes, brilliant!

      2. They can drive the rules changes and ALMS has already bought into new technologies that can actually get implemented in road cars. Brilliant!

      3. Brilliant! I want a Guiness (stupid marketers,, grumble).

      4. Audi has utterly dominated, with fantastic drivers and fantastic teamwork, but far better than that has been their race car design, I remember watching Lemans and seeing them change out an entire rear end, tranny, axles rear bonnet fluids etc in 4 minutes and 55 seconds. Simply astounding! They’ve really got sports car racing down and it’s paying dividends in their bottom line at the road car purchasing level, while if they shifted to F1 they’d be a regular sized fish in a big pond, whereas with sports cars, they are the big beautiful fish everyone wants to stare at (any wonder why Puegot does nothing in racing anymore except for the 908 in that series,, visibility!)

      Thought provoking questions as usual Kieth, when are you wheels up for the Australia?

      1. I wish! I’ll be watching it on TV with the rest of you 8-)

    17. I’m sceptical they will enter F1. There’s not been any positive mumblings from them as far as I recall. I suspect when the credit crunch ends and the new cost cutting measures take effect, work there way through and settle in, then we might see some other manufacturers show a little more interest…

    18. I can’t see Audi joining F1 anytime soon, they did just debut a brand new car, replacing a 4 year old design.

      ALMS has a couple advantages that F1 doesnt:

      1.They race ALL SEASON in North America.

      2.Road relevance- both Audi and Peugeot are turbo desiels, that is more relevant than 15 second KERS boosts.

      3. Its becoming the technological breeding grounds that F1 once was. Just look at the variety and designs. Acura debuted their new P1 car with a hydraulic power steering system.

      4. This kinda goes with point #1. If your from North America and want to watch an F1 race this weekend, be prepared to stay up until 2:30 am. Not exactly prime time for this prime time.

      Sebring 10AM-10PM, my tv and whatever ad revenue I may generate was watching.

    19. One more point:

      If your going to sink your hard earned (pounds) dollars into a new luxury sports car would you rather buy one from a company involved in sprint racing where every compenent of the car is near breaking point? Or a car brand that has proven that it can race 8k miles in 24 hours and only stop to replace drivers and tires?

      I think that speaks to the casual fan more than F1. At least here in the states.

    20. Dan M,

      For now we wont see the R15 again untill Le Mans.

    21. My prediction:
      Audi won’t join F1 until they are allowed to use a diesel.

      They have shown what diesels can do in sportscars and really have made their name as being diesel racers. I’m sure they’ll want to continue that image if they ever join F1. No point in throwing away their reputation and experience in making racing diesel engines.

    22. I wish this would happen. They should bring Peugeot with them as well!!!

      Here was an old concept drawing for the possible Audi F1 from a couple years ago:
      http://speedarena.com/artman2/uploads/1/005_005.jpg

    23. wow i actually like that colour scheme and look of that audi f1 mockup!

      pretty well done

      but yeah, that audi is super dominate over the rest of the field, Peugeot is their only competitor, which isn’t super exciting racing or anything.

      with the money they are throwing into it they could easily cut back spending a little and enter f1, i’m sure there’s plenty of synergy they could generate between the two racing categories (in terms of cross car development and marketing)

    24. I think Audi will only consider trying something like F1 if another team like Peugeot manage to beat them in sportscars for three of four years in a row, at the major events like Le Mans and Sebring.
      Since this isn’t likely to happen for a while, it does seem we aren’t going to see them in F1.

    25. If Audi can’t race a full season of ALMS, then I cannot see them entering F1.
      They’ve cut back in ALMS and are only competing in the main events. This flexibility allowed by ALMS is exactly what Audi want at the moment. I cannot see Audi entering F1 anytime soon. The best you’ll see is another VW brand entering F1. Maybe Lamborghini or Bugatti would enter F1 if the costs were right.

      1. Yes, but its still VW money, however its branded. I think SEAT are still in WTCC, but if they decide to leave there would be more money around for other sports such as F1 or WRC. But the way the car firms are cutting back on spending at the moment, there may not be enough even then.

    26. I want Audi to stay in LeMans series and I would like to see more manufacturers teams joining them. I have a number of reasons for this, which I will explain below.

      1) The LeMans technology is more applicable to road cars and the competitors have a lot more flexibility on design & budget with the various classes.

      2) The individual cars are recognisable even if they were all the same colour, unlike the F1 rule constrained clones – the Audi is visibly different from the Peugot & the Aston is different from the Corvette – and they even sound different.

      3) There is plenty of overtaking & no blue flags. The faster cars have to find a way past the slower vehicles as they are racing in their own classes.

      4) They race on some of the historic tracks like LeMans & Spa The also cars have a real history – what person with even a passing interest can’t visualise 3 Litre Bentley’s, Jaguar D Types, Ford GT’s & right through to the latest Audi’s?

    27. They all ready got a base for an F1 car. Just look at that picture!

      Cut every silver piece away except for the middle nose. A wide nose and a wide front wing! Good start if you ask me.

    28. that picture isnt from audi. its from trackmania. (the online racing game). all someone did was put audi’s lmp livery on an f1 car. geez

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