Audi have set out an ambitious plan to dominate motorsport in multiple arenas following reports that they have agreed a deal to buy a stake in McLaren.
In November, it was reported that Audi had successfully completed the purchase of the McLaren Group, but these reports were dismissed as “wholly inaccurate” by the Woking-based company.
However, Car Magazine reported last week that the Mumtalakat Holding Company – Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund – is willing to sell its stake in the car brand and its Formula 1 team to Audi, who need the thumbs up from Volkswagen to complete the deal.
It has also been reported that Audi will be teaming up with Porsche to supply engines to both McLaren and Red Bull from 2026 onwards.
This contradicts previous speculation that they may have been wanting to form and enter a team into the sport.
Commenting on Audi’s plans in motorsport, Oliver Hoffmann, a member of German car giant’s Board of Management, said they are looking to be creative.
“We want to surprise with our motorsport projects,” he told Sport1.
The car-maker is currently competing at the Dakar rally, where they have now won two stages – the most recent of which coming from Mattias Ekstrom.
Hoffmann believes that the rally gives the company a chance to make crucial developments.
“The Dakar makes sense for us as a brand because of the innovative and progressive drive concept. We drive long distances through the desert with electric motors and an energy converter [two-litre four-cylinder turbo from DTM].”
Hoffmann confirmed Audi’s entry in next year’s Le Mans with an LMDh prototype in the recently introduced Hypercar class.
He also maintains that the group is looking for ventures beyond this.
“From 2023 we will also be competing again at Le Mans. We will see what else comes in the future,” he added.
Formula 1’s technical regulations are undergoing a shake-up in 2022, with the cars this year looking largely dissimilar from 2021’s machines.
Aerodynamic alterations to the cars seek to make overtaking easier, and therefore promote more wheel-to-wheel action.
Furthermore, an engine freeze has been implemented, preventing manufacturers from developing the specification of their engines after the season begins.
This is especially important Red Bull, who, for the first time since they entered the sport in 2005, will be making their own powertrains having split with Honda at the end of 2021.
Hoffmann is pleased with the advancements that the FIA have made in F1, but reassured that he is only displaced to cast a slight glance at the sport for the time being as he focuses on Audi’s other projects.
“The FIA have made some good decisions regarding the future of Formula 1 and last season was also very interesting. But now we are focusing on the Dakar and Le Mans for the time being,” he explained.
Audi’s reported plan to supply McLaren and Red Bull with powertrains from 2026 onwards is yet to be confirmed, so it remains to be seen if the German auto-maker will indeed enter the pinnacle of motorsport.