After a week of speculation that Audi was considering an F1 program, the German carmaker flatly denied it in public statements.
“Formula One needs to solve its problems on its own,” Audi chief Rupert Stadler told German newspaper Handelsblatt (via Reuters) on Monday. That’s a major change from his position even last week.
Stadler only recently told Auto Express that Audi was looking into F1, but said a final decision hadn’t been made and that he couldn’t “say yes or no.”
Most of the discussions has centered around Audi joining forces with former champion Red Bull Racing. The team was dominant until the 2014 switch to a new formula requiring all teams to use turbocharged V6 hybrid powertrains.
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko recently said the team is dissatisfied with the reliability of its current Renault powertrains, and that it was banking on Audi’s entry into F1.
“If we don’t have a competitive engine in the near future, then either Audi is coming or we are out,” he said.
If that deal had gone through, Audi may have joined F1 only as an engine supplier, with Red Bull maintaining responsibility for the design of the cars as well as team branding.
Ferdinand Piech’s resignation as chairman of Audi-parent Volkswagen Group added grist to the rumor mill. Piece was strongly opposed to any involvement in F1 by VW Group brands, previous reports claimed.
Audi still has its hands full with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship that race is a part of. Although since Volkswagen bankrolls factory teams for both Audi and Porsche in the series, it could presumably pay for an Audi F1 team if it wanted to.
However, it seems Audi is more interested in continuing its Le Mans winning streak rather than moving on to Formula One, news that probably has its rivals at Porsche, Nissan, and Toyota muttering expletives.
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