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DATE News (chronologically)
06/17/10
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VW/Audi to ditch IRL plans, go to F1 with World Engine UPDATE #11 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Ulrich Baretzky, head of engine development for Audi Sport, has now said about participation in the IndyCar Series is out of the question. Baretzky has been the spokesperson for proliferation of the GRE Engine, which F1 and other series are adopting, and his words below apparently speak for the intentions of Porsche, Audi, and the Volkswagen Group.

Baretzky said, "We is no interest in the IndyCar engine because of excess capacity (i.e. 2.4L instead of the 1.5L most manufacturers want) and ethanol fuel."

Here at AR1.com we have objected to Honda's proposal of a V6 and 2.4L as being out of touch with the way the rest of the world is moving.  If the IRL allows a range of engine capacities from 1.5L up to 2.4L you can bet that ultimately the 2.4L will generate more HP, and perhaps more importantly, more torque.  So that pretty much means a manufacturer will have to build a 2.4L V6 in order to compete with Honda, and since that does not meet the Global Racing Engine (GRE) size (turbocharged 1.5L 4-cyclinder) the IRL will probably be shunned by most, if not all, car manufacturers, and remain a single engine series once again.

05/22/10 Volkswagen could be set to buck the trend and make a move into F1 as early as the 2013 season.  While the likes of Honda, BMW and Toyota have walked away from the sport due to the global financial crisis, VW motorsport boss Kris Nissen has revealed that the Volkswagen Group – which also includes Audi and Porsche – could look at an F1 program, although such a move would be dependent on the confirmation on new engine regulations.

“All I can say at the moment is that nobody is aware of the new regulations for formula one engines,” he told the Brisbane Times. “Until that is clear I think nobody, including Volkswagen, can do any comments on their interest. First we need from the FIA to know exactly the regulations from 2013 or ’14 and we also need formula one [in general] to recover a bit.

“Formula one has been, I would say, in a crisis. It has been very expensive, manufacturers have been pulling out and a lot of political discussions and stories. Which I think, personally, is really a shame because I think formula one is number one in motorsport. Formula one is very attractive for everybody.

“I personally believe that every big, successful manufacturer should always do a good motorsport program, point one. Point two, they should always consider if formula one could be possible or interesting because this is where you have the biggest and the highest awareness worldwide. But it’s also, of course, the most expensive one. And it’s also the one where if you are not successful it is the one where you can create, more or less, a bad image; you take a risk being there.”

Nissen added that if Volkswagen did elect to start supplying F1 engines, there were three possible options in terms of branding.

“I’m in charge of the motorsport for the brand Volkswagen,” he said, “and I’m not in charge of the strategy for the group.

“Within the group, for sure, it could be Audi, it could be Porsche and might also be Volkswagen. I think it would not suit so well Skoda or SEAT or Bentley.”

05/20/10 (GMM)  A formula one foray for Volkswagen would probably see the Audi or Porsche names above the garage doors.

It has been reported for some time that the German carmaker giant is interested in entering the sport as an engine supplier but only if the FIA green-lights the touted 'world engine' for 2013.

As for the branding of the project, VW's motor racing boss Kris Nissen said: "Within the group, for sure, it could be Audi, it could be Porsche and might also be Volkswagen.

"I think it would not suit so well Skoda or Seat or Bentley," he is quoted as saying at last weekend's Nurburgring 24 Hour race by the Brisbane Times.

Toyota, however, is not interested in returning to formula one any time soon, after failing to win a single grand prix during its more than $3 billion F1 foray between 2002 and last year.

"There is a big gap between formula one and Toyota's actual car users," former team principal Tadashi Yamashina is quoted by Automotive News.

"F1 remains the pinnacle of auto racing, but its image grew too elitist," he added.

05/03/10 The IRL's loss is F1's gain all because the IRL has so far failed to go with the proposed world engine that allows a manufacturer to use the same engine, with a few modifications, in many racing series - to save money.  Volkswagen is interested in formula one but has no intention of launching a Mercedes-like works team.

That is the latest message given by Hans-Joachim Stuck, a former grand prix driver and now the motor sport representative of the German carmaker giant.

"It is clear that we are looking at formula one," he is quoted as saying by Sport Bild magazine.

"We are waiting for the FIA's decision in respect of the use of a world engine for formula one.  If there is (a world engine) we will discuss whether to build it for formula one," added Stuck.

He clarified that VW would only be an engine supplier and not have "our own team like Mercedes".

The 'world engine' concept - with possible deployment across various motor racing categories - has been touted by the FIA.

But regarding a new engine formula for 2013, the current discussions in F1 are about the likelihood of a 1.5 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and a powerful KERS.

It is believed that the world engine concept is not popular among F1's existing manufacturers.

While pushing for smaller engines for 2013, the FIA is also keen to improve the fuel efficiency of the current 2.4 liter V8 designs.

Ferrari's former engine boss Gilles Simon, now working with the FIA, said in the latest edition of In Motion magazine that F1 should "push forward with fuel efficiency".

"If, as an engine engineer, I am given a maximum fuel load, I will try to give the driver the maximum horsepower possible, building the most efficient engine I can," he said.

Simon added that the FIA wants "to try to adapt the rules we have in the run-up to the new engine formula".

01/12/10 We are upgrading this rumor to Fact now, on word directly from VW officials.

Volkswagen Motorsport director Kris Nissen stated it is unlikely that any part of the VW group will pursue an IndyCar Series program.

Collectively, the VW group's Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche brands had joined Honda and Fiat for initial talks over IndyCar's future engine rules package, which is set to be updated in 2012.

"I am not 100 per cent sure of the latest status. But I think it is not realistic for the moment that the VW group will do it,"

Citing economic climate, as well as the stability of the IndyCar series in general, Nissen said "First of all, all parts of the group have motorsport activities already, and we need to look closely at the budgets for these," said Nissen. "We need to concentrate on what we are doing. Also IndyCar needs to settle down, and it looks like it is getting better. America needs to settle down, the car market needs to be stable again."

IndyCar presently uses a spec Honda-powered Dallara package. The current indication is that Indy Racing League has intended to keep the same chassis for 2012, but to open up engine competition and use turbocharged power units.

We at AR1 feel this is a mistake, as we hear from fans and readers that the current IndyCar is simply not an appealing race car to look at, or to watch run on the many road courses and street circuits that now populate the IndyCar schedule. It appears clumsy and looks like a fish out of water anywhere but the Indy 500.

Quite simply, they desperately need a compelling new car.

12/03/09 (GMM)  Another Volkswagen official has played down reports the world's biggest carmaker is set to enter formula one in 2012.

The Wolfsburg based marque's motor racing representative Hans-Joachim Stuck said recently the possible introduction of a 'world engine' would signal an affordable and reliable route onto the grid.

"Building an engine and providing it to a team is the best way," he had said.

But Ulrich Hackenburghas, who is VW's research and development chief, denied to Autocar that a formula one foray has been decided.

At the LA motor show, he instead suggested that moves are afoot for more involvement in racing's junior classes.

"There's been no concrete decision (on F1) but we are developing a global 2.0-litre engine for different racing categories," said Hackenburghas.

11/27/09 Volkswagen is being reported as considering a Formula 1 entrance for the 2012 season.  Whether that means they will still do an engine for the IndyCar series remains to be seen.

"If you're the world's largest manufacturer it's natural that we're thinking about it, but not before 2012," said former driver Hans-Joachim Stuck, spokesperson for Volkswagen.. "We're looking for innovative things and Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. Two years ago there was some talk that Volkswagen was going to buy the Red Bull F1 team, which we didn't need to buy - why should we stick with one team if we can give our engines to more teams?"

He went on to explain that, with lower running costs next year plus a larger grid, the sport is now more appealing to the company. "Now it's amazing; Formula 1 is going the right way," he continued, adding that many manufacturers - whose futures in F1 were always uncertain - have now departed.

"They should become engine manufacturers and then lease the engine, sell the engine or give it to somebody," he explained, "then you lose all the hassle with teams, wind tunnels, engineers, you know. It's like Formula 1 in my days. We had March, we had Lotus, and we had Ford engines. Then Renault came in as engine manufacturer, with a formidable engine. That was perfect.

"I have followed Formula 1 for the last seven years with BMW and have always asked myself, with only 20 cars on the grid, what if we could have 30 cars? Now we're getting back to that. We have three more teams next year, 26 cars, and by having a global engine (Cosworth) - which is good in cost and reliable - we can have 30 cars on the grid."

11/22/09 VW says they are not interested in NASCAR. But are looking at bringing their VW, Audi and Lamborghini brands to Grand Am and that is why they were in Homestead talking to NASCAR, which owns and runs Grand Am. SPEED's Ralph Sheheen

"Yes, this is something that we also have already talked [about]," Stuck told Autosport.com. "It would be nice to get an Audi engine into Grand-Am.

"Audi has a V10 engine which I'm driving in the GT series in Europe, and this engine we could put into a Grand-Am car. The problem is it has to be operated with the NASCAR black box [ECU]. Audi is afraid about how this is going to work, so there are talks and I would say the chances are not too bad.

"And if we can get an Audi engine, then we can also get a Lamborghini engine, because they belong to VW and it's the same engine. This is something we're talking about seriously for 2011.

"I like the prototypes there, maybe the cars could be a little bit nicer, but I also like the GT class because we can run the street car."

Stuck also confirmed to Autosport that VW has held talks with IndyCar officials about a possible entry in the series but said no deal is imminent yet, which you would expect once they signed the Versus deal that resulted in near-zero TV ratings.

11/22/09 The head of Volkswagen's motor sports program is at Homestead-Miami Speedway, fueling speculation that the automaker is interested in joining Toyota as the second foreign manufacturer in NASCAR.  Top NASCAR officials confirmed to The Associated Press that Hans-Joachim Stuck met with the sanctioning body on Saturday at the track. The officials requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the meeting.

Volkswagen officials expressed interest in entering a racing series, but indicated they are more inclined to pick a series that showcases technology, according to a person who attended the meeting but also requested anonymity. NASCAR features competition over technology. [Editor's Note: NASCAR still uses 1950s technology]

A second option for Volkswagen could be the Grand-Am Road Racing Series, which is owned by NASCAR and uses foreign engine makers.

Earlier this season, NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sanctioning body is open to accepting new manufacturers into the stock car series. The only requirement is that manufacturers must have production plants in the U.S.

Volkswagen has a plant under construction in Tennessee, and the facility is scheduled to build mid-size sedans in 2011. That coincides with NASCAR's tentative plans to replace carburetors on Cup Series cars with fuel injection. NASCAR.com

11/21/09 The head of Volkswagen's motor sports program is at Homestead-Miami Speedway, fueling speculation that automaker is interested in joining Toyota as the second foreign manufacturer in NASCAR. Top NASCAR officials confirmed to The Associated Press that Hans-Joachim Stuck plans to meet with the sanctioning body. The officials requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the meeting. The topic of the meeting was unclear. Earlier this season, NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sanctioning body is open to accepting new manufacturers into the sport. The only requirement is that manufacturers must have production plants in the U.S. Volkswagen has a plant under construction in Tennessee, and the facility is scheduled to build midsize sedans in 2011. Associated Press

10/08/09 (GMM)  An official of the German luxury car brand Audi has hinted that parent group Volkswagen might enter formula one if the costs continue to come down.

Reinhold Carl, managing director of Audi Singapore, is quoted by the Straits Times newspaper as musing that while budgets are dropping, teams still need to fork out "well over a hundred million euros" for an annual F1 program.

"If the cost is lower, it will be more manageable," he told reporters.

However, after car marques including Jaguar, Honda and BMW pulled out, amid rumors that Toyota and Renault might soon follow, Carl admitted that the gains from being on the grand prix grid remain vague.

He reckons that if VW was to decide to field a team, it would be branded either Porsche or Audi "or even Volkswagen".

10/07/09 The Volkswagen/Audi Group is mulling over the idea of an F1 entry should costs be brought down to a sufficiently 'manageable' level, a leading representative has disclosed – with an eventual team likely to go under the banner of the legendary Porsche name.

The world's third-largest car maker currently owns ten brands – including Skoda, SEAT, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley – but has not had any F1 involvement since the halcyon Auto Union days of the 1930s, and none at all in the official world championship, in existence since 1950.

With the confirmed return of the iconic Lotus name to the top flight in 2010, it has been mooted that traditional Ferrari rival Lamborghini might similarly join the fray in the years to come in a theoretical battle of the supercar manufacturers – but Audi Singapore managing director Reinhold Carl dismissed that notion, arguing that the famous Italian-based marque neither needs the exposure nor has at its disposal the requisite financial resources, having only become profitable in recent years.

That is not to say, however, that there will be no VW/Audi presence in F1, with the FIA's cost-cutting drive proving to be attractive to the Wolfsburg manufacturer – which is reportedly swimming against the tide in managing the present economic turmoil well.

“Today, it costs well over a hundred million Euros to take part in F1,” Carl is quoted as having said by the Straits Times at the Changi Exhibition Centre. “If the cost is lower, it will be more manageable. I think it would be [under the name of] Porsche, now that Porsche belongs to the group, or Audi – or even Volkswagen.

“We are still in the positive, while many others are in the negative. In Singapore, our sales are up seven per cent from last year, and despite these difficult times our dealer is building a new showroom.” Crash.Net
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