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Audi and Formula 1

IN the wake of the sale of Rolls Royce Motor Cars to BMW, there have been suggestions in F1 circles that the competition for the prestigious car manufacturer will soon be mirrored in F1. There were six groups bidding for Rolls-Royce including three major German car manufacturers: BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

Mercedes is already involved in Grand Prix racing and BMW has announced its intention to join the competition with Williams in the year 2000. The fact that Volkswagen was also bidding for Rolls-Royce is interesting in that it indicates that the company has the same long-term goals as its rivals and must, therefore, be looking very closely at Formula 1 as a way of promoting its products.

There have been rumors for several years that the company is interested in a Formula 1 project, particularly as Volkswagen boss Ferdinand Piech was a racing engineer himself with Porsche in the 1960s and went on to push Audi into sporting programs in the early 1980s, notably in the World Rally Championship and in IMSA with the Quattro and in national touring car championships.

As long ago as 1991 Audi was reported to be doing feasibility studies into Formula 1 engines and the company even admitted to talks with the McLaren team in 1992. The suggestions that Audi would enter F1 intensified last summer when there were suggestions that the company had acquired two F1 chassis from an unnamed F1 team.

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