Having wrapped up the WEC constructors’ championship in Brazil, Audi will convert their R18 Ultra into an R18 E-tron Quattro for the remainder of the championship.
The team say they have done this to ensure equality of opportunity for their drivers in their championship contest.
It earned a cheeky response from Alexander Wurz on Twitter:
Audi explained the change in their press release:
Audi entered the 2012 endurance racing season with two different vehicle concepts. The Audi R18 ultra makes full use of the potential of a conventionally powered LMP sports car with a TDI engine whereas the R18 e-tron quattro as the brand’s first hybrid race car rang in a new era. That both concepts have their particular fortes was obvious on several occasions. While the R18 e-tron quattro made history by achieving the first victory of a hybrid vehicle at the Le Mans 24 Hours and subsequently won the 6-hour race at Silverstone, the R18 ultra managed to score a debut victory at Spa. With the better grid position and fastest race lap by Lucas di Grassi at the fifth round in Brazil, the conventionally powered TDI sports car proved its potential through to the most recent event.
There are good reasons for the change in strategy nonetheless. Whereas the R18 ultra has always been very competitive on a single lap, the R18 e-tron quattro has notable advantages in certain topographic track conditions and when lapping other cars in traffic. As Audi is convinced of the future of hybrid drive, the engineers are now starting to fully concentrate on the development of the race car with an electrified drive system. In addition to the experiences that can be gathered for the future during the second half of the season, this decision assures perfect equality of opportunity.