When Stefano Domenicali (above) was ousted as Ferrari’s F1 boss earlier this year, it was widely believed that the longtime Ferrari man would stay away from Formula 1- a belief that seemed to be confirmed when he took a job at Audi, which has dominated the 24 hours of LeMans for the last decade with its diesel-powered hybrids. It seems, now, however, that Domenicali will be returning to Formula 1 after all … with an all-new Formula 1 Audi and double World Champion Fernando Alonso behind the wheel.
If the reports are true, they gel nicely with comments made by Alonso- widely regarded as today’s top driver- that he will not be driving a Mercedes-powered car in 2015, as well as rumors that he may sit out the 2015 Formula 1 season altogether if he doesn’t get a 1 year contract at McLaren-Honda. Rumors in WEC circles, also, have Audi leaving the sport altogether under pressure from its corporate masters and Volkswagen and Porsche (which own the Audi brand) to, essentially, “let Porsche win”.
Audi will have to announce its plans soon, if it plans to join Haas F1 on the 2016 grid. If it happens, the Audi F1 team will probably use a version of the turbocharged hybrid power unit that had been undergoing development with “Porsche” badging last year, likely making use of some of the Porsche 919 LeMans racer’s crazy-efficient hybrid tech, as well.
Returning Audi (nee Auto Union) to Grand Prix racing for the first time since 1939 would be a tremendous coup for Domenicali and Alonso, and would allow Audi to compete with Mercedes-Benz on the world stage. That would be great for the sport, great for the fans, and great for Audi and Mercedes forums, I imagine. Here’s hoping …