Audi is evaluating how best to ration its remaining engines on the No.7 World Endurance Championship title-leading car for the remainder of the 2015 campaign.
The No.7 Audi R18 etron quattro driven by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler was given a post-race penalty almost two weeks after the Le Mans 24 Hours, after engine seals were removed and swapped by Audi Sport Joest Team members after the morning warm-up.
The resulting penalty means the car reduced to just one of its five allocated engines for the remainder of the 2015 campaign (full story, read here).
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Chris Reinke, Audi’s Head of LMP1 explained how the team will be tackling the remaining five races in the championship.
“We have to see how we can overcome this challenge and in the best way,” said Reinke. “How we can scoop up the miles that are still on the engines available and then work around the one fresh engine.
"We also have to look at what it means to use another fresh engine which will lead in to a (three minute) stop and go penalty in the race."
“For sure, this has an influence on the remainder of this season because we will swap engines more rapidly than planned,” stated Reinke.
Commenting on the incident which led to the penalty, Reinke accepted the findings of the hearing which took place in Paris on 23rd June, nine days after the Le Mans race ended.
“Unfortunately we had a handling issue, and there was a series of mistakes,” he said. “We had a failure in the seals and therefore it was right we had a penalty and that is what the stewards did.
“We get a set of seals which we then dedicate to the engine which then defines which chassis the unit relies to. So for example we get five sets of seals for car number seven.”
“We have to stand up and say ‘yes, these failures did happen, we can confirm it’. Now, we can prove how we have changed our process and that it won’t happen again.”
Third car considered in "extreme" scenario
Reinke poured cold water on the notion that Audi could field a third car in the final race of the season to aid a title quest or to take points away from its rivals in the title battle.
“In an extreme (scenario) we might consider it, but at the moment we are not at that stage,” said Reinke. “We are focusing just on Car No. 7 and how to give it as good as possible a chance for the remainder of the WEC season. We won’t distract ourselves with running another car.”
Audi has fielded a third Audi R18 etron quattro for Filipe Albuquerque, Rene Rast and Marco Bonanomi at both Spa and Le Mans this season.
A maximum of two LMP1 manufacturer entries are allowed for the full season, but additional cars can be entered on a race-by-race basis and do score points in the drivers’ standings.
Only the two best finishers score points for the Manufacturers’ Championship.