Audi is targeting a three-peat at the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) as well as another resounding success in the Le Mans 24 Hours next year -- boasting a Le Mans prototype that has been redeveloped from scratch. While the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro seems like a continued development of the World Championship winning car and Le Mans winner of the past two years, it is almost an entirely new vehicle -- aside from the name.
This is because Audi Sport factually redeveloped every single component of the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro due to new LMP1 regulations that will come into effect next year. The basic elements of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro’s new configuration were defined in 2012 while the design of all the single components commenced later that year. Audi rolled out the new LMP1 sports car in the early fall of 2013, followed by track tests of the latest R18.
The new Technical Regulations contain redefined powertrain, body dimensions, safety and aerodynamics -- all of which were taken into account in the new R18. Audi Sport endowed the new R18 with an improved V6 TDI mid-engine, powering its rear wheels. The e-tron quattro hybrid system -- an Energy Recovery System Kinetic (ERS-K) -- was suited at the front axle.
The new R18 also boasts of optimized flywheel energy storage system. Also, a hybrid system with an electric turbocharger (ERS-H – Energy Recovery System Heat, a system that stores energy converted from heat -- was placed in the internal combustion engine. Under the new rules, new LMP1 sports car now has a 10-cm slimmer body, which means that the front of the R18 becomes mathematically smaller, offering an aerodynamic advantage.
The bodywork accommodates slimmer wheels, which, in turn, reduces aerodynamic drag. However, the rules also resulted to some innovations that do not provide any aerodynamic advantage. For instance, at 1,050 mm, the race car has to be 20 mm higher than before. It also has to have larger cockpit dimensions -- leading to less favorable aerodynamics. Likewise, the lower overall width of the car leads to a slimmer underfloor.
The new LMP1 sports car now features an entirely different shape in the area of the cutouts for the front wheels, which means that area that can produce downforce becomes smaller. The rules, however, allow for the use of a flap instead of a diffuser -- providing aerodynamic advantages and lower costs. [source: Audi]