Audi has announced plans to strengthen its partnership with Team ABT Schaeffler, entering Formula E as a works team for the fourth series of the all-electric championship in 2017/18, the first fully single-seater factory programme in the company’s history.
ABT Schaeffler has been involved with Audi in a technical partnership for two seasons, since the inception of the all-electric series in 2014, but this move sees a long term commitment from Audi. ABT Schaeffler Formula E Team will benefit from Audi’s financial backing as season three commences in October, before a full commitment from Audi from season four onwards, when the German giants will aid ABT’s current technical partner Schaeffler in developing their electric powertrain.
“Electric mobility is one of the key topics in our industry”
“Electric mobility is one of the key topics in our industry,” said Dr. Stefan Knirsch, Member of the Board of Management, Technical Development, AUDI AG. “We intend to involve into one of the leading premium car manufacturers in this field.” Knirsch went on to discuss the wider vision for Audi’s electric programme, adding: “By 2025, every fourth Audi should be an electric vehicle. The first model for this planned is going to be an SUV we’re going to present in 2018. In the light of these plans, adapting our motorsport programme and taking up a commitment in a fully electric racing series is only a logical move.”
Confirming they were seeking to emulate the success that Audi has achieved in other series of motorsport, Dr. Wolgang Ulrich, Head of Audi Motorsport added: “Audi has consistently been using motorsport to test and develop new technologies further for subsequent use in production. With quattro drive, we revolutionised rally racing, and subsequently set standards in circuit racing as well. In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi was the first manufacturer to have achieved victories with a TFSI engine, a TDI and a hybrid race car, so writing motorsport history on several occasions. Now we intend to repeat this in fully electric racing. Formula E, with its races being held in the hearts of major cities, is an ideal stage for this purpose, and Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport a logical partner for us.”
Di Grassi’s views
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver Lucas di Grassi has strong ties with the Audi brand, having contested the FIA World Endurance Championship for Audi, since 2014, and is currently in his third successive season with the team. The Brazilian driver has previously stated that ABT Schaeffler Formula E team requires factory assistance to challenge manufacturers like Renault and DS, who have already heavily invested in Formula E. “At Audi I have the perfect foundations to be successful,” Di Grassi has said, of his WEC career with Audi. Now, it seems, the German car giant will offer the boost needed to ABT Schaeffler that Di Grassi has hinted at, and seek to take the team to the level needed to challenge current champions Renault e.Dams, and achieve a championship title now twice denied them.
Formula E will undergo its second and final pre-season test at Donington Park, from September 5th to September 7th, before the third series of all the all-electric championship gets underway in Hong Kong, on October 9th, 2016.