Audi to potentially join F1 in 2016 - is there light at the end of the tunnel for the sport?


There is some speculation that Audi are going to join F1 in 2016, by combining their budgets for DTM and WEC. The article I've attached states that they've hired Stefano Domenicali, who I don't think has any endurance racing or touring car experience. If this is true, and Audi do join F1, could Fernando Alonso join the German marque in 2016 if he takes a sabbatical year next season? I can't see McLaren agreeing to a 1-year deal with Nando.

All this is idle speculation of course, but if Audi do join, prompted by the new fuel-efficient technologies, could we see a revival of the manufacturer dominance of the early 2000's and an answer to the ever-present problems of the financial situation of F1's participants, as summed up by Caterham's issues this week?

If Audi do join, it can surely only be good for the sport. It would provide an incentive for other manufacturers to join, theoretically provide greater competition to Mercedes (of course, Audi, Mercedes and BMW are great German rivals) and provide greater security for the size of F1's grid in the years to come, especially with the American team Haas joining. F1 certainly has problems in the way it is run - one only has to briefly skim over the financial malaise of some of the smaller teams. Hopefully, this potential development combined with Bernie (hopefully!) providing greater financial security to the teams and not his bland investors who care nothing for the sport, will ensure F1's security and relevance for the next few decades at least.
Audi are funding the Audi Abt Formula E team currently with a view to taking the whole project over. Its kind of them dipping their toe in the water.

Domenicali could be hired for that reason or the Formula E team could be the start of Audi getting into single seater racing.
Volkswagen own Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda and Ducati, so I'm guessing there is plenty of money to back an F1 bid up with..
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With Porsche entering the WEC, it might make sense for Audi, their corporate sibling, to move on to F1. If so, I hope that Team Joest runs the operation as they have for years in the WEC. I would also like to see if this would entice Kristensen to try his hand at F1.
There was mention a month or two back that Domenicali might go to Ducati for a year or so with a view to moving up the management chain to Audi. Seemed a bit strange in that I'd think he'd be happier to cut out the Ducati bit.
I don't want to sound like Mr Misery but when F1 is at the point where Governments have to fund races to make them financialy viable and the fans rejoice the arrival of another multi-billion pound car maker as an indication that the sport may have a future, surely its time to pull down the shutters, take a long hard look and start again.
F1 is a rich mans sport it didn't start off that way but it has been for a very very long time, teams like Caterham should take that into consideration before they jump into the pond.

Sorry but them's the facts...
That is why I liked the Cosworth era so much. You could buy a Cosworth engine and a Hewland gearbox and be assured of having a competitive powertrain. If it weren't for that, teams like McLaren, Williams, Hesketh, March,Surtees, Wolf etc would never have existed. It was the same during the Coventry Climax years, which is how Cooper and Lotus were able to survive.

It was even possible for private entrants to survive. People forget that the late great Rob Walker had none other than Sir Stirling Moss driving for him, and that he gave Jochen Rindt his first-ever F1 drive! That could never happen now.

I think part of the problem is the number of races. When it was 10 or fewer, the costs were far more reasonable.

With the sport's total dependence on manufacturers now, what will happen in the next (and there WILL be a "next") economic downturn, when the carmaker's bottom lines take a pounding? What's to stop them from completely withdrawing from the sport, thereby killing it?
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Actually the problem lies with Bernie and the FIA keeping the bulk of the revenue that F1 produces to themselves and the teams having to survive off of the crumbs from their table, there is more then enough revenue generated by the sport to more than maintain the teams and lets face it without the teams there would be no F1.

Bernie makes sure that even the places hosting the events either make a loss or barely break even, the greedy little shit..
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The "problem" is time and inevitability.

All sports now are multi-billion £ businesses.
Formula One is no different.

If you think F1 is bad, take a look at a premier league football team, or an NBA team.
In Graham Hill's day, he got into F1 by hopping the fence at Brands and offering his services as a Mechanic to the first team he came across after a while he asked if he could drive the car and the team said yes, there wasn't a great deal of money involved the teams did it for the love of racing, but now you have massive corporate conglomerates such as RedBull who have no racing pedigree they are just there to promote their brand world wide..
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I saw the rumour earlier and wasn't especially convinced but the Alonso speculation is an interesting stab in the dark LOL. The problem is that it would be such a huge risk for Alonso, an even bigger risk than McLaren. Even if Audi were to buy a team like Lotus or Sauber rather than starting from scratch there'd be a huge amount of restructuring and recruitment to do and there's no guarantee their engine would be any good, at least to start with. It took Red Bull until their 5th season (with Adrian Newey and a major regulations overhaul) to become genuine front runners.

That brings me to Red Bull and they have been quite open about saying they are not married to Renault for life. The article about Audi coming in to F1 that I read also mentioned some sort out Red Bull sponsorship package. If Renault don't improve, perhaps Audi could become to Red Bull what Honda are becoming to McLaren next year?

A point of confusion for me though is surely it would make more sense for the Porsche name to be in F1 and the Audi name in endurance racing in terms of what the two brands represent?

My gut feeling is that it won't happen but I do think it would be a good sign for F1 if another manufacturer commits to the sport, even if F1 has so many other problems to deal with.
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If anyone can start winning quickly then Audi have past form of actually doing it. They started research into a Le Mans entry in 1997, came third in 1999 and won in 2000 and virtually every year since. I realise it's probably not quite as difficult as achieving the same thing in F1 but if it was a choice between McLaren and Audi to be a top team in the next 2-3 years I think I know which one I'd join.
I remember someone once saying that F1 should be for manufacturers only back in 2007 when small team folded only for the manufacturer team he manages pull out of F1 citing the need to save costs due to the global recession - that person was Nick Fry of Honda
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