Per the BBC, someone in the Volkswagen Group is conducting a feasibility study for a possible entry into Formula One. Stefano Domenicali, who was hired away from Scuderia Ferrari by Audi earlier this year, is leading the review. Haven't we heard rumors about this before?
This sounds like Audi is inching ever closer to putting together a Formula One entry. Mercedes' recent success and image bump from dominating the 2014 season clearly has other OEMs interested in getting involved.
The global advertising value of Mercedes' television appearances during F1 were estimated at $2.8 billion, while the advertising value of VAG's current racing programs is worth $30 million. Mercedes' F1 program was a better publicity bang for the buck, too. Mercedes' net expenditures on their F1 program were approximately $161 million dollars, while VAG's total expenditures on their sportscar and touring car programs totaled $396 million dollars.
Representatives from Volkswagen were even on the working group that put together the new turbo hybrid engine rules for this year, but did not opt to enter F1 at that time.
VAG chairman Ferdinand Piech's intense dislike of F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been believed to be a reason why Audi hasn't announced an F1 program yet. Those two personalities won't be around forever, though. There are rumors that a possible new Formula One chairman could lessen Bernie's influence on the sport. Furthermore, current Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn is currently being groomed as Piech's successor.
Sources say Winterkorn is a believer in the marketing boost of Formula One.
Everything from the fact that Audi's endurance racing R18 is getting long in the tooth to VAG stablemate Porsche's new entry in the LMP1-H class of WEC points to Audi as the most likely brand for the subject of this study.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Sport, swore up and down that Domenicali was hired for a non-motorsport-related capacity. Sure. And Alonso's not going to McLaren, nor is Porsche hiring any Formula One drivers to run its third car at Le Mans. I believe that 100000%, dude.
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