Powered by a V6 TDI and dual hybrid systems Audi is keen to push its record of transferring race technology to the road. Technology we take for granted now, such as TFSI petrol engines, advanced diesel engines and LED headlights, are just some of the technologies Audi has taken from its LMP1 program to its production lines.
New regulations for the 2014 season have seen Audi further develop its R18 concept and motorsport boss, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, tells us the result is a shift in thinking: “The principles of the LMP1 regulations have fundamentally changed. The idea behind this is to achieve similarly fast lap times as in the past with considerably less energy. Making more out of less: a forward-thinking approach.”
More photos and a host of press material awaits after the break giving us a good run down of what to expect in the 2014 WEC season.
The next Audi R18 e-tron quattro: new technology for the World Champions
- New LMP1 race car from Audi for the 2014 season
- Most efficient race car ever built by Audi Sport
- Technical innovations with relevance for production models
Ingolstadt, December 12, 2013 â€“ The name remains unchanged but the technology is completely new. In the 2014 season, Audi is aiming to achieve the hat-trick in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and another success in the Le Mans 24 Hours with a Le Mans prototype that has been redeveloped from scratch â€“ combined, yet again, with technical innovations that are relevant to the production models of the brand with the four rings as well.
The 2014-generation Audi R18 e-tron quattro is the most complex race car ever built by Audi. At first glance, the new hybrid sports car appears like a continuous further development of the World Championship winning car and Le Mans winner of the past two years. However, due to the new LMP1 regulations that will come into effect in 2014, Audi Sport factually redeveloped every single component.
â€œThe next Audi R18 e-tron quattro represents a completely new generation of Le Mans prototypes,â€ explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. â€œThe principles of the LMP1 regulations have fundamentally changed. The idea behind this is to achieve similarly fast lap times as in the past with considerably less energy. Making more out of less: a forward-thinking approach.â€
Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport, talks about a â€˜revolution in thinking.â€™ â€œA fundamental approach to motorsport is being abandoned. Instead of power output, energy consumption will be subject to limitations â€“ this is in line with the spirit of our times and opens up great technical freedoms to the engineers. In 2014, weâ€™ll be seeing a wide variety of concepts on the grid at Le Mans.â€
The basic elements of the Audi R18 e-tron quattroâ€™s new configuration were defined back in 2012 and the design of all the single components started at the end of 2012. The new LMP1 sports car was rolled out in the early fall of 2013, followed by track tests of the most recent R18.
In the new Technical Regulations, a large number of principal definitions, which concern the powertrain, body dimensions, safety and aerodynamics, were re-determined. With the new R18, Audi Sport has opted for a similar concept as in the past â€“ albeit with innovative detailed solutions and an additional hybrid system. The key details:
- A further developed V6 TDI mid-engine powers the rear wheels
- e-tron quattro hybrid system at the front axle (ERS-K â€“ Energy Recovery System Kinetic, a system to store kinetic energy)
- Optimized flywheel energy storage system
- Hybrid system with an electric turbocharger in the internal combustion engine (ERS-H â€“ Energy Recovery System Heat, a system that stores energy converted from heat)
New approaches to powertrain technology and energy management
Never before has a race car been powered by technology as complex as the one used in Audiâ€™s new LMP1 sports car. The TDI engine, which sets the benchmark in terms of efficiency, remains a time-tested and important element of the overall concept. The further developed V6 TDI unit of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro makes a crucial contribution to the carâ€™s compliance with the energy specifications of the regulations. The new R18 has to do with up to 30 percent less fuel than its immediate predecessor.
In addition to the internal combustion engine, the powertrain concept, for the first time, features the integration of two hybrid systems. As in the past, a Motor-Generator-Unit (MGU), during braking events, recovers kinetic energy at the front axle, which flows into a flywheel energy storage system. For the first time, the turbocharger of the internal combustion engine is linked to an electrical machine, which makes it possible to convert the thermal energy of the exhaust gas flow into electric energy â€“ for instance when the boost pressure limit has been reached. This energy also flows into the flywheel energy storage system. When the car accelerates, the stored energy can either flow back to the MGU at the front axle or to the innovative electric turbocharger, depending on the operating strategy.
The overall design of these systems and their direct impact on engine and powertrain management require highly complex coordination and tuning work. Audi Sport initially performed theoretical analyses and simulations, followed by rig testing and, since October, by track tests. The options available to the drivers and engineers as a result of the new technology are now more extensive than ever before.
Significantly changed conditions for the aerodynamicists
New freedoms, accompanied by greater restrictions â€“ this is how the new framework conditions for aerodynamics can be put in a nutshell. A few examples: The 10 centimeter slimmer body of the new LMP1 sports car means that the front of the R18 becomes mathematically smaller â€“ which is an advantage. The bodywork accommodates slimmer wheels, which, in turn, reduces aerodynamic drag. This is contrasted by other innovations that do not provide any advantages in aerodynamics. At 1,050 millimeters, the race car has to be 20 millimeters higher than before, and larger cockpit dimensions are prescribed as well. This leads to less favorable aerodynamics. The lower overall width of the car results in a slimmer underfloor. In addition, it features a completely different shape in the area of the cutouts for the front wheels. Consequently, the area that can produce downforce becomes smaller. With respect to designing the front end, the engineers enjoy new freedoms. Instead of a diffusor, a genuine front wing with a flap may be used for the first time. This promises aerodynamic advantages and lower costs, as this part of the bodywork will lend itself to easier modification to suit the various race tracks. In the past, it was necessary to produce different bodywork assemblies.
On the other hand, greater limits have been imposed on the aerodynamic design freedoms at the rear end. Use of the exhaust gas in the area of the rear diffusor, as in the case of the 2013-generation Audi R18 e-tron quattro, is now prohibited.
Further improvement of safety
Even in the past, LMP1 sports cars with their closed CFRP cockpit structure were regarded as one of the safest race car categories of all. Two severe accidents of the R18 at Le Mans in 2011 saw the Audi drivers get off lightly. But this is no reason to stop. The rule-makers have continued to improve the safety of the latest race car generation by imposing numerous discrete requirements.
The new monocoque has to resist higher loads. At the same time, it is reinforced by additional layers of fabric, which are hard to penetrate in the case of a concentrated impact. This reduces the risk of intrusion by pointed objects in accidents.
For the first time, wheel tethers are prescribed. They connect the outer assemblies of the front wheel suspensions with the monocoque and the ones of the rear suspensions with the chassis structure. Each of the two tethers required per wheel can withstand forces of 90 KN â€“ which equates to a weight force of nine metric tons. Another new feature is a CFRP structure behind the transmission â€“ the so-called â€˜crasherâ€™ â€“ which absorbs energy in a collision.
This is another example of the considerable challenges faced by the Audi engineers, as all these innovations increase weight, in addition to the second hybrid system. Audiâ€™s previous Le Mans prototype weighed 915 kilograms. But in the future the carâ€™s weight may be reduced to 870 kilograms â€“ which means that Audiâ€™s ultra-lightweight design technology reaches a new dimension.
A large number of further innovations â€“ for instance in the areas of vision and interior ergonomics â€“ characterize the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro that will be making its racing debut in the 6-hour race at Silverstone (Great Britain) on April 20, 2014. The highlight of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will be the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 14/15, 2014. The aim is clear: Audi is setting its sights on continuing to maintain the leading role it has enjoyed in sports prototype racing since 2000 and on again demonstrating â€˜Vorsprung durch Technikâ€™ at Le Mans.
International partners on board
The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro will be on the grid together with strong partners in the 2014 season. For the first time, the Brazilian company Aethra Sistemas Automotivos and the Swiss watchmaker Oris support the title defense project. The two new partners complement Audi Sportâ€™s international portfolio in the sports car program, which includes AkrapoviÄ, Alpinestars, Bosch, Castrol, ITK Engineering, Mahle, Michelin and OZ.
LMP1 regulations for 2014
- New rules for maximum efficiency and safety
When the new LMP1 regulations come into effect in 2014 a large number of fundamentals will radically change. In more than 100 years of motorsport, the rule-makers typically endeavored to restrict engine outputs in order to prevent excesses. Contrary to established practice, the new WEC regulations no longer limit engine output through cubic capacity restrictions, the number of cylinders or the use of air restrictors. Instead, the energy consumption of the race car is now taking center-stage.
The idea takes getting used to. Until now, the turbo diesel engine of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro was limited to 3.7 liters of displacement while the permissible maximum size of gasoline engines used by LMP1 race cars was 2 liters (turbo engines) or 3.4 liters (normally aspirated engines). As of 2014, displacement no longer numbers among the limiting factors. In the past, the engine was supplied with air through an air flow restrictor (45.1 millimeters in the case of Audiâ€™s V6 TDI). In the future, gasoline and diesel engines will be allowed to â€˜breathe freely.â€™ While in the past moderate boost pressure restrictions applied to turbocharged engines (diesel: 2.8 bar; gasoline: 2.5 bar), 4 bar is now allowed â€“ a new challenge.
Energy and its consumption are becoming the key feature. In the future, energy charts will define the maximum consumption per lap. Automobile manufacturers have to choose one of four energy classes. The chart allows a maximum of recovered hybrid energy, which may be reused in a certain way, in combination with absolute fuel consumption per lap. Flow meters in all the race cars check these consumption levels and transmit the data to the stewards of the meeting on each lap. The same happens with the energy amounts of the hybrid system. This makes a tactical distribution of fuel consumption over the entire race distance impossible. Instead, anytime the prescribed maximum levels are exceeded, the excess consumption must be compensated for within three laps, otherwise penalties may be imposed. Therefore, when it comes to covering the longest distance within a given period of time, the only things that count are the most efficient race car and the corresponding driving style of the driver.
Further steps are changing a few previously valid basic dimensions. For the first time since Audi entered prototype racing in 1999, the width of the LMP1 race cars has been reduced from the maximum of two meters to 1.90 meters. The wheels are significantly slimmer in 2014 as well. The weight of the race cars may be lowered to 870 kilograms.
Safety is another focal point of the new regulations. The seating position of the race drivers has changed in order to improve vision from the cockpit. The drivers are now sitting in a more upright position in the cockpit; their angle of forward vision has been enlarged. Cutouts at the rear ends of the fenders optimize lateral vision. In addition to active safety, passive safety has been further improved. The monocoque has been designed for higher loads. Special exterior layers provide protection against the intrusion of pointed objects. Wheel tethers help prevent wheels from separating from the suspension in accidents. From 2014 LMP1 race cars, for the first time, will also be equipped with crash-boxes at the rear of the vehicle in order to better absorb energy in rear-end collisions.
Motorsport has seldom seen such fundamental rethinking. The aggregate of all the requirements imposed by the new regulations forced Audi, like the constructors of all the other entrants, to build a completely new race car.
Audi in the WEC
- World Endurance Champions
Two years of FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), two titles in the driversâ€™ classification, two in the manufacturersâ€™ classification, plus Le Mans victories number eleven and twelve. Audi has achieved the maximum in the first 24 months of the new World Championship. In the winter of 2013/2014, this forward-thinking racing discipline is marked by drastic changes. For the first time, a set of regulations that are fully focused on efficiency is coming into effect. Audi has thoroughly prepared for it.
After a 20-year break, the sports cars found a home again at World Championship level for the first time in 2012. The FIA WEC closed a gap in international racing, following the last Sports Car World Championship that was held in 1992. In 2014, it is one of only five FIA racing series with World Championship status.
Audi shaped the new series in the second season even more significantly than before. After five race victories in the inaugural year of 2012, Audi Sport Team Joest won six of the eight rounds in the 2013 season. The â€˜crown jewelâ€™ of the WEC â€“ the Le Mans 24 Hours â€“ was decided in Audiâ€™s favor for the twelfth time in 14 years. No other manufacturer has ever achieved such a track record in this iconic endurance race in such a short period of time.
The squad from Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm successfully defended both World Championship titles as well. Right after round six, Audi could no longer be deprived of the manufacturersâ€™ World Championship title and a race later, LoÃ¯c Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (F/DK/GB) were confirmed as driver World Champions for the first time, following the title win by Marcel FÃ¤ssler/AndrÃ© Lotterer/BenoÃ®t TrÃ©luyer (CH/D/F) in the previous year. Within just two years, Audi, on winning four WEC titles, achieved a 100-percent success rate.
Endurance racing not only derives its special thrill from the races that feature strategic diversity. In terms of technology, this World Championship can claim a leading position as well. No other series makes such a wide variety of innovations possible. This year, for instance, Audi underscored its claim of â€˜Vorsprung durch Technikâ€™ in the sporting duel with challenger Toyota in the field of hybrid drive technology, with ultra-lightweight design, in the fields of aerodynamics and engine technology, and with discrete technological innovations such as the digital rear-view mirror featuring an AMOLED display or the latest generation of the Matrix LED headlights. This lighting technology, which improves traffic safety, has started to benefit Audi customers too. Customers, for the first time, can now order this option for the A8.
To promote customer-relevant progress even more intensively, the clocks in motorsport are literally being set back to zero in the 2014 season. That is when new regulations that force the manufacturers to design completely new LMP1 sports cars come into effect. The central aim: The most efficient race car wins. Ideally, its technologies will pioneer impulses for large-volume production developments in the automotive industry.
â€œWe welcome this direction in endurance racing and see our basic idea of motorsport confirmed,â€ emphasizes Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. â€œFor more than 30 years, Audi has been active in the top categories of motorsport, always combined with the aim of achieving technological progress through on-track success and to transfer the findings gained in racing to production automobiles. The list of these milestone achievements, which started with four-wheel drive in 1980, is becoming longer and more valuable year by year.â€
Since 2012, Audi has been preparing for the new breakthrough LMP1 regulations that come into effect in 2014. Never before has Audi Sport developed a race car as complex as the new Le Mans prototype. The motorsport audience will experience the latest generation of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro for the first time at the opening round of the 2014 WEC season at Silverstone in the UK on April 20. The calendar featuring eight rounds represents continuity and, with venues in Europe, North and South America as well as Asia, embodies a program befitting a World Championship.
2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC)
Apr 20 Silverstone (GB)
May 03 Spa-Francorchamps (B)
Jun 01 Test Day Le Mans (F)
Jun 14â€“15 Le Mans (F)
Aug 31 SÃ£o Paulo (BR)
Sep 20 Austin (USA)
Oct 12 Fuji (J)
Nov 02 Shanghai (CN)
Nov 15 Bahrain (BRN)
Audiâ€™s sports car innovations
- LMP1 as the vanguard of new technologies
Audi has been constructing Le Mans prototypes since 1999. The company has regularly been at the forefront of technology with a wide range of innovations, and with the same regularity many of these solutions made their way into production cars.
Audi introduces TFSI gasoline direct injection into motorsport. The V8 twin-turbo engine of the Audi R8 Le Mans prototype, thanks to the new fuel induction, stands for significantly improved responsiveness, optimized fuel economy and shorter pit stops. Shortly afterwards, the technology makes its way into Audi production cars where it helps reduce CO2 emissions in millions of units.
Audiâ€™s first diesel engine in motorsport triggers a revolution. While the use of diesel engines in top-caliber racing was hardly conceivable before, they become the benchmark in endurance racing thanks to Audi. Seven Le Mans victories have been achieved by Audi with TDI engines to date. Fuel economy, torque, power development and noise emissions have reached previously unknown levels. The high injection and ignition pressures have been helping to gather valuable findings for production car development to this day.
The Audi R18 TDI was the first Audi LMP1 sports car to light the track using full LED headlights. With that, Audi achieves a breakthrough as a lighting technology pioneer in racing too, just like the brandâ€™s production models point the way toward the future with LED lights. Subsequently, solutions such as Matrix LED technology with cornering light extend the lighting functions once more. Since 2013, Audi has been offering Matrix LED headlights in the A8 as well.
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro marked the next milestone in Audiâ€™s sports car history. Its hybrid drive in combination with the low-consumption TDI engine made it the most efficient LMP1 race car which remained unbeaten at Le Mans and won the World Championâ€™s titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2012 and 2013. Its hybrid system acted on the front axle, the internal combustion engine on the rear axle. This is how four-wheel drive returned to motorsport. The digital rear-view mirror with an AMOLED display is paving the way for a technology that in the future may be playing a significant role in road traffic as well.
The next generation of the R18 e-tron quattro will be the most efficient Le Mans prototype of all time by Audi. For the first time, the sports car uses two hybrid systems for energy management â€“ including an electric turbocharger. The new R18 will be consuming less energy than any of its predecessors.