Audi will withdraw from the DTM at the end of 2020, leaving BMW as the sole manufacturer in the series.
The decision is one that Audi was known to have been considering for some time, and in a statement confirming the exit, Audi’s Chairman of the Board of Management Markus Duesmann said that it was motivated primarily by a desire to refocus on Formula E and similar programs.
“Audi has shaped the DTM, and the DTM has shaped Audi,” said Duesmann. “This demonstrates what power lies in motorsport – technologically and emotionally. With this energy, we’re going to drive our transformation into a provider of sporty, sustainable electric mobility forward. That’s why we’re also focusing our efforts on the race track and systematically competing for tomorrow’s ‘Vorsprung.’
“Formula E offers a very attractive platform for this. To complement it, we’re investigating other progressive motorsport formats for the future.”
Gerhard Berger, chairman of DTM promoter ITR, hit out at the timing of Audi’s announcement, and acknowledged that it casts doubt over the series’ long-term viability.
“Today is a difficult day for motorsport in Germany and across Europe,” Berger said. “I deeply regret Audi’s decision to withdraw from the DTM after the 2020 season. While we respect the board’s position, the short-term nature of this announcement presents ITR, our partner BMW and our teams with a number of specific challenges.
“Given our common association, and the particular difficulties we all face during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have hoped for a more united approach. This decision worsens the situation, and the future of the DTM now very much depends on how our partners and sponsors react to this decision.
“Nevertheless, I fully expect Audi to undertake its planned exit properly, responsibly and in full partnership with ITR. My commitment remains to the year ahead, and to ensuring we provide our hundreds of thousands of fans with a thrilling and competitive season. But, as soon as possible, I also want to create planning security for our participating teams, sponsors and everybody whose job depends on the DTM.”
Audi’s rivalry with Mercedes defined the DTM for years until the latter withdrew in 2018, while BMW’s current program dates back to 2012. Audi is currently committed to running nine of the 16 confirmed entries in this year’s field.