The longstanding Audi squad Abt does not rule out a change of manufacturer

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Abt was responsible for bringing Audi back into the DTM more than two decades ago and has since shared many successes with the German manufacturer, winning the teams title five times in 2004, ’07, ’11, ’16 and ’20.

Abt has remained in the DTM with factory support from Audi even after the championship switched to a customer-oriented formula in 2021 and is fielding three cars for Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde and Ricardo Feller in the 2022 season that recently ended.

While the future of Audi in customer sport and thus also in the DTM now seems secure, Abt still has to commit to the Ingolstadt brand for the 2023 season.

Speaking to Motorsport.com’s sister title Motorsport-Total.com, Abt team boss Thomas Biermaier said: “That we will take part [in the DTM] is clear. We have a package that we have been happy with for years.

“But nothing is finished yet – neither for the drivers nor for the manufacturers. This is all happening shortly after Hockenheim [DTM finale].”

Abt submitted his offer for the 2023 DTM season to Audi together with the teams Team Rosberg and Attempto and is currently waiting for feedback from the Volkswagen group brand.

While there is a clear intention from Abt to stay with Audi next year, Biermaier admitted it has received some interest from competing manufacturers.

“Audi is the top option, but you can tell from the other options that we haven’t done a bad job,” he smiled.

“Audi knows exactly what they have in us. And we know what we have in Audi. I’m relatively confident that we can implement it.”

While Abt has been synonymous with Audi since the beginning of the century, it made two outings with sister brand Bentley at the Nurburgring 24 Hours between 2016 and 2017.

Rast replacement depends on the three-car rule

Pole sitter Rene Rast, Team ABT Sportsline

Photo: Alexander Trienitz

Abt has lost his star newcomer Rast after just one season in the DTM after the 35-year-old decided to abandon ship and join German rival brand BMW.

Before a decision can be made on a possible replacement for Rast, the team must first determine whether it would be allowed to field three cars under the 2023 series regulations.

As Motorsport.com revealed earlier this month, ITR is considering a rule change that would require teams to run cars in multiples of two to make the most of limited pit lane space, forcing one- and three-car teams to change their operations.

Abt is clear expanding to four cars in DTM next year will not be technically feasible as it adds a second program in Formula E, suggesting the only alternative is to downsize its operations , if the two-car rule comes into effect.

Until it is clear how many cars may be used in the DTM next year and whether Audi will remain, a decision on a possible replacement for Rast cannot be made.

“It depends a bit on our plans, whether we continue with three cars or maybe go down to two cars,” Berimaier said in a separate interview with Motorsport.com.

“One thing is clear: we will not increase to four. With all our other projects with what we have in mind for next year, we may not have the capacity to build four cars. It looks like two or three at the moment.

“We are waiting for the final decision of the ITR. If you can see the pit lane here to reduce the entries, I think that’s helpful. Not only for teams, but also for security reasons.”

An alternative option for Abt would be to share the garage with a one-car Audi team as Attempto, effectively forming a new virtual team.

“If the rules allow, yes [we could team up with a one-car outfit]’ said Biermaier.

“We’ve had the same question before. If Attempto only makes one car and we stick to three cars, we can share one car with them and it would be the Abt-Attempto team.

“But if the rules are for two cars, we’re going to two cars.”

Abt is said to be pleased with the performances of both van der Linde and Feller, who clinched their maiden race win at Imola, and both have a good chance of staying with the team regardless of how many cars it runs in 2023. as long as it stays that way in the Audi area.

Rosberg and Attempto’s plans for 2023

Nico Mueller, Team Rosberg Audi R8 LMS GT3

Nico Mueller, Team Rosberg Audi R8 LMS GT3

Photo: Alexander Trienitz

Meanwhile, Audi team-mate Team Rosberg has indicated his intention to continue his DTM participation “if the conditions are right”, suggesting a final decision will depend on finances.

From today’s perspective, the costs for the registration fee, tires and fuel are still open, as the DTM is preparing for its third season according to GT3 regulations.

“We’ll be there if all the general conditions are right,” said team boss Kimmo Liimatainen to Motorsport-Total.com. “And we want that too, otherwise it would have been nonsense to do it for two years and then not continue it.”

However, Liimatainen is clear that Team Rosberg will remain an Audi customer into the 2023 season without considering a manufacturer change.

“We’ve been with Audi for 17 years – and the way the talks went, the will is there on both sides,” he said.

Like Abt, Team Rosberg needs an A-list driver in its line-up following Nico Muller’s departure to Peugeot in the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship, but Liimatainen said the ball is with Audi regarding a possible replacement for the Swiss .

“Is there an adequate replacement for Nico, or do you even want one?” Liimatainen asked. “I don’t know yet.”

Attempto, who entered a single car for German youngster Marius Zug this year, is interested in a second start next year after a difficult first season in the DTM.

But it’s understood DTM is considering capping a manufacturer’s number of entries to six next year, which could hamper Attempto’s plans to expand its fleet depending on how many cars Rosberg and Abt enter.

“I noticed that it’s very difficult for a young driver when you only have one car,” said team manager Akrin Aka. “And when you have a second strong driver, they push each other,

“I find [Zug] is a very good talent and you can build on that. I still have to discuss what that looks like with Marius. And I think we’re already at an advanced level for next year, but nothing’s signed yet.”

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