Audi will leave Formula E at the end of the 20/21 season

Published: 30 November 2020

Audi recently revealed its new Formula E car for the 20/21 season, but new reports suggest it’ll be leaving the all-electric series at the end of this year. The move brings to an end a seven-season long presence in the sport; Audi heavily backed the Abt team in the first three years of Formula E, before entering as a full works team in season four.  

DTM and Formula E out, sportscars and Dakar in

Audi is turning its back on electric street racing and instead returning to sportscars and the internal combustion engine. Alongside a campaign in the hybrid LMDh class, Audi is also planning to enter the Dakar rally in 2022. 

What?

Formula E has primarily been a marketing tool for the brand, useful for pedaling the benefits of electric power; so it’s interesting to see Audi now return to the LMDh hybrid formula – and with it, the internal combustion engine.  

Audi will continue to supply powertrains in Formula E after this year, but the exit of the works team is seismic. It’s an insight into what Ingolstadt’s top brass deem as important to the brand; and electric is perhaps not as an integral part of Audi’s DNA as we thought. 

Not only does it go against Audi’s messaging for the last few years; it also goes against both Honda and VW Group stablemate Porsche. Earlier this year, Honda announced its decision to leave F1 after 2022, citing the sport’s hybrid rules as not in keeping with its EV strategy. It appears Audi is doing the opposite. 

It’s also not the first time the VW Group’s motorsport plans have diverged, either. Audi left Le Mans to join Formula E, only for Porsche to do the same thing years later. Now, Audi’s move out of the all-electric championship leaves Stuttgart with a factory-backed Formula E program, and a GTE – not Hypercar or LMDh – motorsport program. Audi’s decision to return to endurance racing in full capacity makes us wonder if Porsche will do the same.  

Will Porsche be the next to leave Formula E? And will the likes of Honda or Toyota wish to take Audi’s place on the Formula E grid? We’ll find out soon enough. 

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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