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Dieter Gass to become new head of motorsport at Audi

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Audi has confirmed that Dieter Gass will become its new head of motorsport for 2017, taking over from Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

Ullrich confirmed last month that he would be stepping down after 23 years at the helm of Audi motorsport, overseeing 13 victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Audi announced at the end of October that it would be quitting the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans after 2016 in order to focus on Formula E, where it will field a works team in the near future.

In a statement issued by Audi on Friday, Gass (pictured left, with Ullrich) was confirmed as its new head of motorsport from January 1, moving up from his role as head of racing commitments.

“Dieter Gass is going to lead Audi Sport through the upcoming transformation stage and continue to write Audi’s success story in motorsport,” Ullrich said.

“He knows Audi Sport like few others do. From November 1994 to March 2001, he worked there as an engineer – initially in the super touring car and subsequently in the sports prototype program.

“Afterwards, he held leading positions in Formula One for eleven years. In that period, he gathered a wealth of know-how that Audi Sport has been benefiting from ever since his return in 2012.

“Following one year as Head of Racing Commitments and four years as Head of DTM, he is now taking his next, carefully planned step. I will be assisting him in this role in an advisory capacity, but not in the operational side of the business.

“I know that Audi’s motorsport commitment is in good hands with Dieter Gass.”

Gass added: ““The footsteps left by Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich are very large. He was at the helm of Audi Sport for 23 years and is credited with exceptional achievements during this long period of time.

“In addition to the global development of partnering teams and countless championships in super touring car racing, the 13 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and numerous DTM titles stand out as lasting milestones.

“But I’d be remiss not to mention the development of customer racing at Audi and Audi Sport’s move to the modern Competence Center Motorsport in Neuburg designed for today’s needs. Careers like these are very rare in motorsport.”

Ullrich will remain with Audi in an advisory role until the end of 2017.

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

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Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta have both completed one-day tests for Williams in a 2014-spec Formula 1 car as part of the team’s evaluation for its 2018 line-up.

Williams is known to be considering a number of drivers to partner Lance Stroll at the team next year, including existing racer Felipe Massa.

Massa is thought to be going up against Kubica and di Resta for the 2018 drive, with the latter duo taking part in a private test at the Hungaroring in Budapest this week to aid the team’s evaluation.

After missing out on a 2018 Renault drive due to lingering questions about his physical condition six years after his rally accident, Kubica tested for Williams at Silverstone last week before getting back behind the wheel of the 2014 FW36 car in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kubica’s test was called “productive” by Williams, with the Pole handing duties over to Mercedes DTM racer di Resta on Wednesday.

Di Resta raced in F1 with Force India between 2010 and 2013 before returning to DTM, but made a surprise return at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix with Williams when Massa was taken ill. Di Resta impressed on short notice, putting himself in contention for a full-time return to F1 in 2018.

Williams has one of the few remaining seats on offer in F1 for 2018, with Massa’s future known to be in question after a quiet campaign thus far.

The Brazilian had been due to retire from F1 at the end of last year, only for Williams to recall him after Valtteri Bottas’ late move up to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement.

Massa has made clear he would like to keep racing in F1 next year, but only if the deal is right and if Williams is determined to keep him.

While Massa, Kubica and di Resta appear to be the three leading contenders for the seat, Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe made clear in Japan there was a “large range” of drivers under consideration.

“You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at, but honestly, the range is almost unlimited,” Lowe said.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so, and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”