The German automaker appears to be determined to make its F1 entry a success.
According to a report from Motorsport-Total (via Motorsport.com), the Audi Sport Customer Racing program will be closed at the end of this season to allow the brand to focus on its upcoming Formula 1 entry. In 2020, Audi departed DTM and left Formula E the following year. Then, in 2022, it decided to abandon its LMDh program.
According to the publication, insider sources claim that Audi's board of directors already decided in 2021 to refocus the company's resources behind F1, and the board finally issued instructions to this effect near the end of 2022.
That means that Audi will no longer be part of GT2, GT3, or GT4 motorsport with the R8 LMS, and the TCR program with the RS3 LMS is also dead.
The regular Audi R8 road car is also not long for this world, and its replacement will be a totally different proposition. Perhaps this will be GT3-compatible, allowing Audi to return to customer racing at some point, but for now, F1 is its priority. Considering the R8 will exit production at the end of 2023, Audi clearly sees no point in sustaining the customer racing series that relies on this car.
Also important to the marque is its Dakar Rally program, which is reportedly set to continue in 2024 despite the board's feeling that the entire motorsport department should be working exclusively on F1. The report claims that Audi will be taking this avenue of motorsport beyond the single race in the new year, with plans to contest the full World Rally-Raid Championship next season.
The main takeaway here is this: Audi is taking its F1 entry very seriously. The automaker has already committed to firing up its first F1 engine before the end of this year and is seeking to progressively increase its stake in the Sauber Group every year until 2026 so that it can make the F1 team its own. Audi wants to win, and it wants to do it right from the off. Focusing almost exclusively on F1 seems like the right way to make that happen, but if the gamble backfires and Audi fails to make an impression, it may rue the lost income from its customer racing teams. Time will tell which call is the most prudent.
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