Thirteen-time Le Mans 24 Hours winners, Audi, have today announced that their endurance racing activities will cease at the end of the season, as the marque focuses on its involvement in Formula E.
While the German brand has become synonymous with World Endurance Championship racing, having competed in the top-flight of sportcar racing for 18 consecutive years, Audi is eager for its on-track activities to better reflect the brand’s increasing focus on electric vehicles.
As such, the Abt Schaeffler Formula E team will become the manufacturer’s primary focus, just weeks after announcing that it will field a full works entry next season. However, Audi will face stiff competition in the all-electric series, with increasing presence from both established and emerging automotive brands alike, including Jaguar, BMW, Renault and Faraday Future.
Ruper Stadler, Audi’s Chairman of the Board of Management, commented: “We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power. As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.”
The future of motorsport?
While many pundits questioned the viability and potential of Formula E during its first two seasons, it is clear from the growing manufacturer presence that the series offers a great deal of value outside great racing.
The vast majority of car makers are now focusing on an all-electric future, spurred on by consumer demand, advances in technology and, to some extent, the political backlash resulting from Diesel-gate.
It is clear that Formula E not only offers a testbed for the next generation of electric vehicle technology, but also a growing global marketing platform that is attracting a new breed of motorsport fan. Close racing hosted in convenient city-centre locations, at an affordable price, is bringing in a demographic that would be unlikely to attend more established racing categories.
With a number of other manufacturers known to expressed both public and private interest in joining the Formula E ranks, we can expect to hear more announcements like this in the coming years. As such, it is essential that other series take heed of Formula E’s successes, particularly its proactive fan engagement, and replicate this winning formula.