Audi will cease running their works team in Formula E following the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, but will continue to supply customer team Envision Virgin with a powertrain.
The German automotive giants have had a presence in Formula E since its launch in 2014, and have operated as a full works team for the past three seasons following a takeover of the Audi-affiliated Abt Sportsline team in 2017.
The news of their exit today will mean that Audi’s final season of competition will commence in January 2021, however, Porsche – who are part of the same Volkswagon Group – will continue to compete beyond the 2020-21 season.
Audi have also confirmed that their factory motorsport programme will continue beyond 2021 but with a switch in focus towards competing in the Dakar Rally.
A statement from Audi read: “The Dakar Rally will replace Audi’s factory involvement in Formula E, which will no longer be continued in the form of an Audi factory team after the 2021 season. The use of the newly developed Audi powertrain by customer teams will remain possible beyond next year.”
In addition to their support of Formula E customer team Envision Virgin, they will also continue their association with their customer teams in the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the Intercontinental GT Challenge, as well as a future entry into the new LMDh category which will compete at Le Mans and Daytona in the coming years.
“In addition, we are evaluating other possible fields of activity for us in international motorsport,” confirmed Julius Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport.
“In doing so, we have our customers’ wishes in mind as much as the company’s future strategy, which is clearly focused on electrification and carbon-neutral mobility. This is why we are intensively preparing to enter the new sports prototype category LMDh with its highlight races, the Daytona 24 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours. The most important message for our fans is that motorsport will continue to play an important role at Audi.”
With 43 podiums and 12 wins, Audi are (in their guise as both an independent and a works team) are the most successful automotive manufacturer to have competed in Formula E.
The news of Audi’s departure also throws Lucas di Grassi’s Formula E future into doubt. The 36-year-old Brazilian has represented the marque in every single Formula E race so far and claimed the drivers’ championship title with them in 2017.
Inside Electric have reached out to Audi for comment. This article will be updated shortly.