Despite being invited to advise the FIA on developing the new rules that will govern F1 from 2014 onwards, Audi is simply not interested in the sport, Ingolstadt top brass have told CAR.
'There’s a very good reason why we are not in F1,' says Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi’s motorsport boss. 'There’s no relevance to the road. Audi has always been engaged in motorsport that’s relevant to our customers such as rallying and touring cars, which brought quattro, FSI and TFSI to our road cars.
'This is why in 1999 we decided against F1. Instead we decided to take on the greatest race in the world. We went for Le Mans.'
Why Audi thinks Le Mans is tougher than F1
Audi has enjoyed unprecedented success at La Sarthe. Under Ullrich's watch Audi has racked up nine wins in 11 years, putting itself on a par with Ferrari and behind only Porsche (16 wins) in the constructor’s championship standings.
'Our goal is track to road technology,' Ullrich told CAR. 'The best proof of technology is success in motorsport. Lightweight construction, downsized engines and greater economy – they are as relevant for the road as they are for the track.'
That old chestnut: win on Sunday, sell on Monday
Ullrich is adamant that Le Mans endurance racing is a better testbed than Formula One will ever be.
'Let me show you how – at Le Mans, one of our cars will cover 325 miles more than an F1 car will cover in an entire season, our average speed including pits stops will be 20mph higher than an F1 car and we will use 42% less fuel.
'You cannot argue with those figures.'
>> Can Audi's new R18 Le Mans racer continue the winning streak? All will be revealed on 12 June 2011 at the Le Mans 24hrs