Potential Circuit Breaker: Audi is Entering Formula E
One reason gasoline engines have been able to evolve into an efficient, well-understood choice for a common automobile driver is participation in motorsports. As we are recognizing a new future for cars with electric power, an ambitious plan to showcase the performance of near-zero emissions motoring is set to become reality.
An all-electric racing, the Formula E series will be inaugurated on September 20th of 2014 as one of the first professional forms of motorsports of its kind. An open wheel race car design similar to the vehicles in Formula 1 or IndyCar Series, the open class setup of Formula E provides any willing company an opportunity to innovate near-zero emissions performance. With almost every major automaker trying to prove the merits of their electrified drivetrain development, Formula E could be the first application of the old “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday” adage for electric cars. Having fielded a hybrid diesel/electric prototype sports car for victorious outings at Le Mans, Audi has thrown its hat into the ring for the new world auto racing class.
Providing a rendering of a vehicle‘s livery, Audi will be led into the Formula E series by ABT Sportsline starting in 2014. Though a private entity, ABT Sportsline’s has a long-running relationship with modifying Audi and Volkswagen Group vehicles to be greater performers. ABT Sportsline and Audi already have an established partnership in motorsports with the DTM championship campaigning the A4 and A5 (named the RS 5 for the 2013 season). For the 2013 DTM season, Mattias Ekström and Jamie Green drove the ABT Sportsline Audi RS5. Finishing fifth in the teams’ championship after the 10-race season, the highlight was Green’s pole position at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben and a runner-up finish for Ekström at Moscow Raceway. The Formula E series team name will be Audi Sport ABT Sportsline.
“We’re proud to have the opportunity to take part in the debut of this new racing series. Participating in the new FIA Formula E Championship marks a completely new chapter in our more than 60-year motorsport history,” said Team Principal Hans-Jürgen Abt. Speaking to the auto manufacturer’s involvement in the partnership, the head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich commented on the new venture saying, “We’ve been watching this new project of the FIA with great interest and are delighted that ABT Sportsline as one of our close and long-standing partners will be involved right from the beginning.”. Ullrich is no stranger to promoting electrified pursuits in motorsport. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro had taken the first hybrid race car to victory in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year, the Audi Sport Team Joest repeated the feat with the race. In addition, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro has been on a mission in the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship winning all but one race in the LMP1 category.
Becoming the seventh organization to commit to the 2014-2015 Formula E series, Audi Sport ABT Sportsline will join the presence of teams like Andretti Autosport, Super Aguri and Drayson Racing. Planning for place two cars on the grid with the Formula E launches in China on September 20th of for its inaugural season, many details remain to be settled including the driver line-up. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed for the squad on tackling this new challenge and are planning to support its commitment with drivers from our factory line-up if required.”, said Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
Information and photo source: ABT Sportsline