The news comes as no surprise. Audi has been involved in the FIA Formula E Championship since its inception in 2014 by supporting ABT Sportsline. But the 2016/2017 season has seen the brand deepening the partnership with financial and more technical support leading up to taking over the team’s position on the grid and racing under the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler banner.
“We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power,” said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Audi AG. “As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.”
Formula E is a competitive environment for the development of components for electric mobility. And Audi is leading the way in keeping with its trailblazing spirit. For instance, the brand has a long history with the prestigious Le Mans endurance race. Over the years that competition has proven a testing ground for technologies such as TFSI and Matrix LED – now found in the brand’s production cars.
“That Audi will be the first German automobile manufacturer to be actively involved in the racing series starting next season is also a clear commitment of our brand to electric mobility, on the race track as of December and next year on the road as well with the new Audi e-tron,” said Dr. Peter Mertens, Member of the Board of Management, Technical Development, AUDI AG.
Also, behind Formula E’s growing popularity is that the championship – contested by ten teams with two drivers each – takes place on street circuits in cities in North and South America, Africa, Europe and, of course, Asia.
“Formula E delivers spectacular motorsport in the hearts of fascinating cities and is a tremendous stage to present electric mobility and motorsport in their most emotive forms,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “I’m happy that now everything has been put on track for a successful future too.”
So far, the team with its drivers Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi, who is an elite Audi factory driver, has clinched 23 podium places – including five victories – in the 29 races held to date and is the current runner-up in the championship. Until now, Audi has been backing the team by assigning Grassi, who is ranked 2nd in the competition, along with access to the cutting-edge facilities at Audi Competence Center Motorsport in Neuburg.
“Within the space of just a few years, Formula E has seen such a strong development that a team can no longer be competitive without the backing of an automobile manufacturer,” said Hans-Jürgen Abt, the owner of ABT Sportsline. “That’s why we’re gladly handing over the reins to Audi – a partner we’ve been successfully cooperating with. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to continue this success story in Formula E.”
The fourth Formula E season will kick-off in Hong Kong at the beginning of December.