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It’s not quite up there with the Chicago Cubs’ ex-title drought,
but McLaren’s failure to land a Formula 1 Constructors’ World
Championship since 1998 (ABOVE) is perplexing. Can its
re-alliance with Honda fix that any time soon? See page 70.
annual budgets on
their power units,
yet are notoriously
reticent to talk
about them. Enter
rior to Audi announcing its withdrawal
from the World Endurance Championship
and the race it practically owned for two
incredible decades, the 24 Hours of
Le Mans, one story we were working on for
RACER’s Technology Issue was potential
future tech in the WEC’s innovation-friendly,
yet mind-warpingly expensive LMP1 class.
Thanks to the continuing fallout from
Volkswagen Audi Group’s “dieselgate”
emissions scandal, that’s been replaced
with a look-back on how Audi changed the
face of sports car racing. But the original
story did contain interesting insight on the
WEC’s willingness to embrace technologies
to keep its participating manufacturers
engaged, with hydrogen fuel cells the
next imminent addition to the rule book.
Writer Marshall Pruett asked the LMP1
manufacturers what new tech they might
consider down the line and, pre-pullout
rumblings, got a memorable response from
Audi Team Joest managing director Ralf
Juttner: “We’re working on a flux capacitor,”
he grinned. “And we’ll refuel using waste
from the year 2050. Any more questions?”
He was joking of course (everyone
knows DeLorean-owning “Doc” Brown
holds the patent for flux capacitors, not
Audi), yet it does illustrate the double-
edged sword that LMP1 – and Formula 1,
too – represents for its competing marques.
On one side, both series present an
opportunity to hone and accelerate
relevant, cutting-edge technology in the
ultimate development environment. On
the other, such freedom and opportunity
inevitably leads to a spending arms race
that, equally inevitably, leads to casualties.
But the conundrum for any series
touting technology is, how do you give
auto makers a platform without opening
a budgetary Pandora’s box? All-electric
Formula E believes it has the answer and,
so far, the manufacturers are buying into
its vision – Audi among them. But as FE
opens up its technical rules, the challenge
will be keeping a lid on escalating spends.
“[Technical] freedom inevitably
leads to a spending arms
race that, equally inevitably,
leads to casualties”