While some drivers are expected to remain with the Four Rings after its LMP1 program winds down at the end of November, others could bolster the Porsche 919 Hybrid and Toyota TS050 Hybrid efforts for a full WEC campaign or in expanded efforts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
rivers under Audi’s banner are pretty exceptional, there’s no question about it,” Audi’s Allan McNish told RACER. “The whole team and cars were coming to a nice crescendo, but it’s far too early to look at anything like driver availability. Lucas is already doing Formula E, Loic is in Formula E, Andre races in Japan, so most of the Audi Sport drivers have been quite active outside of Audi, as long it is doesn’t conflict. Who knows if there would be any changes.”
Mark Webber’s looming retirement has opened the door to one 919 seat for 2017, and an in-house solution of Nick Tandy or Earl Bamber is expected to take the Aussie’s place alongside Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. Lingering questions about the line-up in the second 919, piloted by Le Mans winners Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb could lead the team to consider a solution from its sister brand. Toyota would also benefit from an upgrade with at least one of its drivers.
“I don’t think we’d want to lose any of them because they’re all assets,” McNish continued. “But I know from my personal experience that having a contract and not driving isn’t a good feeling for a racing driver, so later on, after the championship is done, it will be something to discuss.”