Audi suspends its LMDh program; his involvement in F1 with Williams evoked

Saturday March 12, 2022 by Philippe Brasseur

Audi Sport, which last year announced its return to the Endurance GTP (LMDh) prototype category in 2023, has now put this program on hold. According to the brand, « Audi has suspended development of its LMDh for 2-3 months due to parts supply chain issues. »

So much for the official version because it is known that this new prototype, whose chassis is manufactured in Canada by the Multimatic company, was to hit the track within one to two weeks for its first development tests. As for the parts supply problems, it is surprising to see that, since this Audi LMDh program has several points in common with that of Porsche and that the hybrid system is unique to all the cars of the future LMDh regulations, Audi encounters problems to begin the development of its prototype while Porsche (chassis also manufactured by Multimatic) has already carried out nearly 2500 km of track tests in Europe, this winter!

Porsche should therefore continue this program in Endurance as the sole representative of the VAG group, in addition to probably putting its name on the F1 engines of the Red Bull teams by 2026, an agreement between Red Bull Technologies and the German manufacturer being more more often mentioned.

For Audi, the end of the Endurance LMDh program is obviously accompanied by a reflection on the brand’s commitment to Formula 1, perhaps buying McLaren as rumored in 2021 or, more seriously, making Williams its official team with an engine designed and developed entirely by Audi Sport and Williams.

This Williams-Audi marriage would be logical as the two entities can complement each other. Let’s not forget either that at Williams, we already find two former heads of the VAG group in motorsport, namely Jost Capito, and Sven Smeets, the heads of the Volkswagen Motorsport program in the World Rally Championship (4 titles between 2013 and 2016). Capito currently serves as president and Smeets as athletic director at Williams.

In addition, it was Williams Advanced Engineering (in 2012 via its Williams Hybrid Power division) which designed the hybrid system of the previous Audi prototypes, winners in the World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in addition to manufacturing the hybrid units for Formula E, of which Audi was one of the regular competitors until last year. The technical partnerships between Williams and Audi are therefore not new.

Finally, it should be noted that the Audi programs in Rally-Raid (with hybrid vehicles competing in the Dakar and other events of this type) and customer competition with the R8 GT3 and GT4 are not impacted, at least in the short term, by the stopping of this LMDh program nor of a possible announcement of commitment in F1.

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