Berger: Audi brand would suffer leaving DTM to prioritise Formula E

Rachit Thukral
Berger: Quitting DTM would damage Audi brand

ITR chairman Gerhard Berger believes Audi risks harming the reputation of its brand if it decides to quit the DTM in favour of Formula E.

Audi's future in the DTM is uncertain ahead of an internal restructuring, with the German car manufacturer expected to make a call on its factory programmes in the tin-top series and Formula E.

It is understood that both programmes cannot co-exist beyond the end of 2020, and FE is favoured over the DTM to coincide with a push towards electric vehicles on the road.

Berger said he would be disappointed if Audi decides to call time on its DTM programme to focus its effort on FE.

"If you give up the DTM in favour of Formula E, you might weaken your reputation as a sporty brand - and thus also weaken the area where you connect with people on an emotional level," Berger told Autosport's sister title Motorsport-Total.

"In my opinion, emotion and passion can be communicated to a very limited extent in Formula E at the moment.

"As a hardcore motorsport racer, I wouldn't necessarily put Formula E in the motorsport category. We appreciate it as a marketing platform and the promoter is doing a good job.

"The cars today are still too slow [in FE] and therefore too unspectacular. They are also formula cars, which means that the clear visual reference to the production model is missing. Then you limit the sporting basis of a brand."

Berger: Quitting DTM would damage Audi brand

At the end of 2018, Mercedes ended its long-standing DTM programme to enter FE, a decision that fast-tracked talks between the DTM and SUPER GT to adopt Class One regulations.

However, Berger insists there are no parallels between Audi and Mercedes as the Stuttgart-based brand already had a combustion engine-powered programme in Formula 1.

"[With Mercedes] there was the argument that you don't want to afford three motorsport projects anymore, but only two," said Berger.

"So the message was: 'Formula 1 is set, this is the platform on which we promote emotion and sportiness. DTM fulfils a similar area, but Formula E fulfils something else.

"That's why it makes sense to rely on Formula 1 and Formula E because they complement each other. That's why we have to give up DTM'."

Berger revealed that discussions are underway with Audi about the manufacturer's future in the DTM, but no timeframe has been set by either parties to take a firm decision.

Should Audi decide to pull out of the series, it would come as a third major blow for the DTM following the exit of Mercedes and Aston Martin licensee R-Motorsport.

Audi currently fields six factory cars in the series, while WRT also enters two customer RS5s in the category. In such a scenario, BMW would be left as the only manufacturer in the category.

Get unlimited access to the world’s best motorsport journalism with Autosport Plus