Superbugs. They are antiobiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses, fiends that defy eradication no matter how much counteracting agent you throw at them. Reports that Audi is going to join Formula One? They are the superbugs of rumors; for five years they've been coursing through the blood of motorsport, and no amount of denials or Audi's continued non-presence in F1 has been able to make them go away. Not even a month ago we contracted another bout of it, courtesy of Auto Express, citing sources who said Audi would leave endurance racing and DTM - handing Le Mans over to Porsche, instead of the other way around - and buy either Red Bull or Toro Rosso for an entry in 2016 with an in-house powerplant.
The real hurdle is that Volkswagen overlord Ferdinand Piëch doesn't like Bernie Ecclestone on a personal or professional level.
Within 24 hours of that story, Audi Sport sent the tweet, "Audi in F1? There rumors keep appearing with regularity since years. It's pure speculation again this time and without any foundation." Now, few things are impossible in F1, but lining up on the grid in 2016 is not far away from needing to be ready tomorrow, in F1 terms, which is why these announcements come long in advance. Honda, you'll recall, gave us almost two years' notice of its F1 reunion and Porsche gave us three years notice about Le Mans.
A brand-new report in the BBC says that Audi is using new hire and ex-Ferrari technical director Stefano Domenicali to lead a feasibility study into an F1 program. According to that story, the real hurdle to the foray, however, is that Volkswagen Group overlord Ferdinand Piëch doesn't like F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on a personal or professional level, so one of them would need to leave his position before Audi could say yes, feasibility be damned. Since we're talking about two men who define professional longevity, that day might not come soon.
The BBC story goes on to say that Martin Winterkorn, head of the VW Group management board, would like to see the group in F1, and that if it happened it would be with a "car designed and made in Germany." Ladies and gentlemen, you know where to file this one...