Audi appears to be getting very serious about its Formula 1 program, as the VW-owned German carmaker is cutting its other factory motor racing endeavors.
With the marque entering F1 via a buyout of the Alfa Romeo/Sauber team by 2026, Audi's head of motorsport Rolf Michl said there will be no more financial support for customer teams in DTM or endurance racing such as the Spa 24 Hours and the Nurburgring 24 Hours.
Autosport reports that all 14 of Audi's factory drivers will also be released after the 2023 season.
Motorsport-magazin.com said the management board made the decision on Monday, and since then Audi's customer support boss Chris Reinke has been informing teams, drivers and partners. The move comes shortly after the company announced that Audi CEO Markus Duesmann will be replaced by successor Gernot Dollner on September 1.
The board has reportedly also decided to end Audi's works Dakar Rally program, involving Carlos Sainz Sr., after 2024.
"For me, the decision of Audi AG is completely incomprehensible, because the funds will probably have to be pooled for the Formula 1 project," said Peter Schmidt, team principal of the Audi Sport Team Car Collection team that raced at the Nurburgring 24 hours earlier this month in May. "If you know Audi's history in motorsport, you ask yourself "how it came about. It was always said that Audi does motorsport because of customer loyalty to the production vehicles. That certainly brings more benefits than getting involved in Formula 1 or the Dakar Rally. I still have to digest the disappointment with this decision. "
Audi's Michl said that customer teams will still be able to race with their own budgets.
"Audi customer racing will not be liquidated or closed," Michl said. "We have received approval for all aspects—technical support, the spare parts service on site and the entire customer care, which has distinguished us for years. But there is the very clear decision that, with the focus on entering Formula 1 in 2026, there will unfortunately no longer be any financial support for the teams from our side from 2024.
"It was with a heavy heart that we accepted the decision."