Unnamed insiders at both Audi and Volkswagen have told AutoExpress that the German luxury marque will re-enter the Formula One fray in 2016. With only a finite amount of cash available for Audi's racing ambitions, the brand will have to end its participation in the German touring car championships or DTM.
It will also be forced to withdraw from endurance car racing, where it has been spectacularly successful, winning every 24 Hours of Le Mans race since the turn of the millennium, except for the 2003 and 2009 editions. When it does depart the scene, it will end one in-house battle between Audi and sister marque, Porsche.
Rather than building a team from the ground up, the German brand's preferred method of entry into Bernie Ecclestone's circus is to buy an existing team.
According to the British publication, the two teams in Audi's sights are Red Bull Racing and its junior team, Scuderia Torro Rosso. Reasons cited include Red Bull's long standing sponsorship of one of Audi's DTM teams, and the close friendship between Ferdinand Piech, chairman of the Volkswagen Group, and Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull's co-founder.
Additionally Audi has, in the past month, hired Stefano Domenicali, who replaced Jean Todt as Ferrari's team principal in 2008 and who left the Italian team earlier this year.
Heightening expectations still further is the close bond between Domenicali and Fernando Alonso, who some believe may be lured over to the four-ringed brand. Other rumours, though, suggest that Alonso will leave Ferrari at the end of the year and link up with McLaren-Honda for next year's F1 season.
The company has responded to the rumours via its Audi Sport Facebook page: "Audi in Formula 1? These rumors keep appearing with regularity since years. It’s pure speculation again this time and without any foundation. We are committed to the FIA WEC, DTM and GT racing."