News "Worst crisis": Audi factory team in Phoenix trembles for existence

21:45  06 april  2020
21:45  06 april  2020 Source:   de.motorsport.com

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Short-time work, fear of existence, emergency measures: How Audi's factory teams suffer from the corona crisis and why Phoenix-Audi is hit hardest

The DTM teams are currently in alarm. "This is clearly the worst crisis that I have ever experienced with my company," explains Phoenix Audi team boss Ernst Moser in an interview with 'Motorsport.com' after 20 years at the head of his team.

Rosberg Audi team principal Kimmo Liimatainen agrees with him, even if he has not yet completely lost his Finnish humor: "The weather is nice, but that's about it with the positive news. The situation is pretty shitty."

And Abt Audi Sport Director Thomas Biermaier also draws a bleak picture: "We have registered short-time work for the entire company because nobody knows how long it will take." The DTM season opener is scheduled for mid-July at the Norisring, but whether it will take place is uncertain .

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Phoenix team fears for existence

The Kempten company is not the only one among the Audi factory teams that has requested government aid: Rosberg-Audi had registered short-time work for the entire company on April 1, so far the Phoenix team has only done so for done the customer sport area.

The works sports department will "probably follow suit", clarifies Moser. "These are the next steps that unfortunately cannot be avoided."

But is the DTM factory team already about existence? "I can bridge this for a while, but in the long run it is of course a killer," the team boss does not impose on the end of the team he founded in 1999. "If it goes on like this for more than a month or two, it will be difficult."

Customer sports area as a hotspot

Why is the situation so particularly delicate with Moser's team? "In the DTM, we have a certain level of basic security through the works contract with Audi, which runs until the end of the year," he explains.

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In the customer sport area, however, "the service that you get is paid for by the end customer." And since there are currently no VLN races and as soon as there is no need to contest operations, Phoenix is ​​unable to perform at all. "So that has a direct and more extreme effect," he confirms that you stay on the budget.

Why the DTM factory budgets are threatened with cuts

However, this does not mean that the situation with the DTM project is unproblematic. "If we don't have any assignments in the DTM, we won't get the budgets that were normally guaranteed under the contract," Moser reveals.

You will have lower costs due to short-time work and other cost-cutting measures, "but of course we will also lose budgets there. That is how you should come over the year, even if you are definitely not in the black."

An advantage for the factory teams is that they have not signed sponsorship contracts themselves for several years. This is the responsibility of the manufacturers. As a result, the question of whether the services to the 2020 donors will be provided affects Audi and not the teams.

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How does the crisis affect Rosberg and Abbot?

But how difficult is the situation for the other two Audi factory teams? Rosberg and Abt benefit from the fact that with the DTM and - in the case of Abt - also with the Formula E, they only engage in factories. Only the Rosberg team is currently preparing a side project for which you have to bear the costs yourself.

"The worries are definitely there, but the situation is still okay according to the circumstances," Liimatainen said in an interview with 'Motorsport-Total.com'. One would still "survive one month or the other".

Audi, Team © Provided by motorsport.com Audi, Team

The three Audi factory teams from Abt, Rosberg and Phoenix

Photo: Audi AG

Abt Audi Sport Director Biermaier is aware that his team is in a privileged position despite the difficult circumstances says: "As a factory team, you are in a different situation than the private teams or GT teams, which really have to finance themselves with driver income."

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The company reacted immediately to the new situation: "The mechanics took vacation time off, took time off. I ordered the engineers into the home office." At the moment there are not even a handful of people in the Rosberg factory in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. "My assistant is still here and also someone for logistics, but we are so well distributed here in the building that we are easily 50 meters away," he smiles.

While Moser always drives to Phoenix in the morning to take care of deliveries and post, he works from his home office in the afternoon. At Abt-Audi in Kempten, on the other hand, there is even more going on, because while the motorsport area is at a standstill, some work is being done in the tuning area. "The service workshop is open, but we are currently not allowed to actively sell," says Biermaier.

How the Abt workshop is arming itself against Corona

So far, no Audi team has suspected a corona virus. But what precautions have Abt taken for the employees who are still working in the company? In addition to the necessary hygiene rules, Biermaier clarified in an interview with 'Motorsport.com' that two layers had been formed. "So that the second shift can continue working if something happens in one shift."

Apart from that, "Keeping distance is the greatest imperative. Nevertheless, there are jobs where you have to do it in pairs. You have to be absolutely careful. And that's the people."

At first it was very unusual for the employees, he says: "We are a team. And in the past you hugged and clapped in the morning. Like with a football team - there is simply this cohesion." The cohesion "is still there from the head, but not physically at the moment. Everyone has the greatest respect for the virus."

With images from Audi AG.

8 hours from Suzuka 2020: Yamaha withdraws factory team .
© Yamaha Yamaha does not work in Suzuka Yamaha will not compete with a factory team at this year's endurance race in Suzuka. It is unclear whether this decision was made with a view to the consequences of the cornavirus crisis or has a different strategic background. From 2015 to 2018, Yamaha won four times in a row and only narrowly surrendered last year. So far, the date of this year's Suzuka race has been set, even though there are some doubts about the feasibility.

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