Audi has been involved in the Formula E Championship since the start of the 2014/2015 season, the inaugural season of the electric car racing series.
However, Audi hasn’t been fielding its own team. Instead, it’s been a sponsor of Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport. The team has competed in all seasons of Formula E, including in the current 2016/2017 season with drivers Lucas Di Grassi and Daniel Abt. Thanks to the duo's efforts, Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport has clinched 23 podium places, including five victories, in the 29 races held to date.
For the 2017/2018 season, Audi will be fully responsible for Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport which will be changing its name to Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler. As the new name indicates, fellow German firms Abt, a motorsport and tuning company, and Schaeffler, an automotive parts supplier, will still be involved.
The move will mean Audi is the first German automaker with a team in Formula E. However, it isn’t the first automaker in the sport. You’ve already got the likes of DS, Faraday Future, Jaguar, Mahindra, Nio (formerly NextEV), Renault and Venturi already competing. BMW and Mercedes-Benz are also expected to join the fray.
2016/2017 Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport Formula E race car
The automakers see Formula E as an ideal platform to develop as well as promote their electric car efforts. Audi, in particular, has extra incentive to focus on Formula E in order to distance itself from the Volkswagen Group diesel scandal.
Teams will still be using a common chassis next season, though they are able to develop their own powertrain, transmission, suspension and software. Eventually, they will be able to build their own chassis, too.
The 2017/2018 Formula E season kicks off in Hong Kong on December 2 and will subsequently take the campaign to South and North America, Africa as well as the European metropolises of Rome and Paris, and other venues.
The current 2016/2017 season isn’t over yet, however. The championship will be stopping in New York this weekend and will then host two more rounds in Montreal in a fortnight. Currently leading the championship is Renault e.Dams and its star driver Sebastian Buemi.