Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Could Audi Have A Mercedes-Like Impact On Formula One?

Audi has flirted with the possibility of entering the world of Formula One as the sport looks to increase the level of competition. The German company ventured in the world of motor racing by joining Formula E for their launch in 2014.

In the last campaign, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver Lucas di Grassi won the Drivers’ Championship – the first individual success for the team. Not only that, Audi narrowly missed out on the Constructors’ Championship finishing second behind Renault.

However, they have not been able to maintain their form this term. Both of their drivers are off the pace in the title race, while the team lies in sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Their exploits in Formula E have highlighted the difficulties in remaining at the top of motor racing.

Mercedes has proven in Formula One that it is possible to remain dominant over a period of time with the team looking for their fifth win on the bounce in the Constructors’ Championship. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg put them on top of the sport while the Brit and Valtteri Bottas are poised to embark on a new campaign to keep them there with odds of 4/9 with William Hill highlighting their authority over the rest of the field.

It was not always the case, as Mercedes only joined the ranks of the sport in the 2010 season. Ross Brawn’s company Brawn GP merged with the German outfit after winning the Constructors’ Championship in 2009, while Jenson Button triumphed to claim the Drivers’ Championship. The rise of Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel knocked them off course for four seasons, while Mercedes-McClaren and Ferrari were also relevant at the top of the sport.

Mercedes is a separate entity from Mercedes-McClaren and was able to lure away Hamilton ahead of the switch to V6 turbo engines in 2014. The new regulations have seen the German outfit take control of the sport and they show no sign of slowing down with Ferrari and Red Bull off the pace in their bid to break the stranglehold.

The current system of governance will last until 2020 when Audi could theoretically join the ranks. However, it could behoove the company to join as soon as possible to build up a rapport with leading figures, to attract backroom staff and drivers to the team. The success of Brawn GP was due to Ross Brawn’s experience with Ferrari, being an integral part of Michael Schumacher’s success in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Luring a manager of the calibre of Toto Wolf or Christian Horner as well as looking at the best young driving talent would give them a massive head start.

It took time for Mercedes to develop their V6 engine for the 2014 campaign, going through four seasons of mediocrity before their tenure of dominance. This included Hamilton’s first season with the team when the 33-year-old finished fourth in the standings. There’s no guarantee of immediate success, but putting the right hierarchy and talent in place could see Audi enjoy an impact in a similar vein to their compatriots Mercedes.

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