Audi Motorsport switches focus from WEC to Formula E

I know this could be included in a news post but I figured I’d probably talk about what it all means for motorsport and all that so here we are for the third edtition of the Sunday bloggy blog post.

This past week, the suits at Audi Motorsport have announced they will no longer compete in the World Endurance Championship and of course the 24 hours of Le Mans because of a switch in concentration to Formula E, the single seater series featuring purely electric cars that was only launched in 2014.

Audi have been an integral part of the WEC for many years now. This included a completely dominant run from 2000 to 2014 where they won 13 Le Mans races as well as winning the World Endurance Championship in its inaugural year of 2012 and 2013.

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Audi R18 competing at Le Mans.

They have switched to Formula E for, what appears to be a new challenge. They proved all they had to in endurance racing during theor many years on top, and made strides in using diesel power for the long races to improve efficiency. They had their great sucsess with big name drivers such as Allan MacNish and Tom Kristensen, who holds the record for tthe most Le Mans race wins with nine and six being competitive. However, the new prototype cars from Toyota and Porsche have overtaken the Audi as they lost the last two Le Mans races and WEC championships.

It does make sense for Audi to focus on the electric sport. Endurance racing looks set to be a hybrid battle for the forseeable future. While hybrid cars are currently popular they will ultimately be replaced the fully electric. Other manufacturers have also got involved such as Renault who have been an integral partner from the beginning’. Jaguar have also gotten in on the action by joining this year for the third season of the sport. The goal for all teams is to develop electric motors for racong and then be able to transfer the technology to their own road cars.

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ABT Team drivers Lucas di Grassi (left) and Daniel Abt (right) celebrating a podium finish.

Audi have partnered with the ABT Formula E team. The ABT team have won races with Audi in the DTM series and now look to expand their trophy cabinet. They even won the first ever Formual E grand prix, granted when the leading two collided at the last corner. Their drivers are ex Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt, son of the team owner. To date they have enjoyed moderate success.  In the first season the ream came third in the team’s championship and in the sercond season they finished second and Lucas di Grassi missed out on the driver’s championship by just two points.

The Formula E championship has drawn some criticism from motorsport purists saying that the battery powered cars will never be anything like petrol powered Formula One cars. But it’s not supposed to be. I like the series. The cars are obviously very quiet but they produce an electric whine and that is how it’s supposed to be. I like that the series runs through winter. Starting in Autumn and ending in late spring it fills the winter gap perfectly when all other forms of motorsport are off. It also runs solely on city circuits as the cars are simply not powerful enough to justify the use if a proper race circuit. Again this adds to the spectacle and also provides some great backdrops to cities such as London, Hong Kong and Paris.

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Formula E action from the 2016 Paris ePrix.

So far the Renault eDAMS car has been all mighty. They have won both the teams championships and driver Sebastian Buemi has won a drivers championship too. The addition of more manufacturers will definitely bring more interest and attention to the sport and a development competition between big brand names will improve the electric technology that is going into road cars.

The move for Audi seems very well informed and also hope to see more manufacturers to get involved such as Mercedes who have proved themselves in Formula Obe as well as BMW who sponser the Formula E series and provide the sefety car in the firm of their hybrid road car the i8.

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