Audi boss Ullrich laughs off continual F1 rumors

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NÜRBURGRING – Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich has laughed off the continued speculation linking the German manufacturer with a move into Formula 1 in the future.

Due to Red Bull’s own disillusionment with F1 and subsequent public threats to quit the sport in 2015, Audi had been mooted as a possible engine supplier or buyer for the team.

The German marque has long stated that talk of a move into F1 was nothing but “pure speculation”, affirming its commitment to the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM (Germany’s premier touring car series) and GT racing.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk at this weekend’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring, Ullrich said how the speculation about a possible move into F1 had been a long-running theme of his time at the helm at Audi.

“This is a discussion I’ve lived with for 20 years, and we never did it,” Ullrich said.

“So I would be surprised if we did it tomorrow.”

When asked by MotorSportsTalk whether some kind of entry to the sport in 2016 would be possible, Ullrich said that a lead up of a single year would be unwise.

“If somebody wants to go into Formula 1 and they think that they can do it from one to the next year, I think he shouldn’t try to do it,” he said.

The Audi-to-F1 story is something of an annual occurrence, but given Red Bull’s recent woes and the quit threats that have been issued in public, it has gained a little more traction in 2015.

Audi continues to exist as one of the two dominant teams in the FIA World Endurance Championship alongside Porsche, with its no. 7 trio of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler leading the drivers’ championship ahead of today’s race at the Nürburgring.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.