After Audi's initial denial of plans to enter Formula One, a senior official from Audi told reporters that plan to exit endurance and touring car racing in favor of Formula One. The senior official said they plan to leave the World Endurance Championship and DTM by the end of the 2017 motorsport season.
“Market research has recently confirmed once again the significance of F1.” said the Audi official. Backing up the report is Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner, saying that the German luxury carmaker has expressed interest in entering top-level open wheel racing in the future with their team. Audi already has connections with Red Bull with their DTM program and Volkswagen Group has Red Bull as their primary sponsor for the World Rally Championship.
While no official word just yet, the Audi executive said the company's board of directors intend to push the decision and be a competitive team by 2020. The report also mentions plans to enter as early as 2018. Audi's reported withdrawal from endurance racing leaves Porsche, another Volkswagen Group company, to devote more time and energy for WEC. The decision to go to Formula One helps Audi with a much broader market reach compared to endurance racing.
At the moment, the plan is to enter Formula One through Red Bull Racing. While Formula One is an expensive venture, the Audi executive says the move will be “virtually cost-neutral”. He adds, “Instead of pedalling a marque or a specific product, they want to tap the commercial opportunities new F1 is offering. The idea is to use the Red Bull team as a door opener. Why Red Bull? Because of their success and experience, because of their top-class infrastructure and of course also because of the pending sponsorship agreement.”