Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich says the future of the R15 TDI program depends entirely on the outcome of the current rules deliberations with Le Mans organizer the ACO.
Peugeot protested the front end design of the Audi R15 prior to this year's Le Mans 24 Hours – an issue resolved by the ACO promising discussions with the LMP1 manufacturers to clarify the rules going forward.
Ullrich insists that if the outcome of the talks goes against Audi's current design, the team will be forced to pull–out as it will not be able to make substantial altereations to the R15.
"If you really have to do a significant change, I think we can't make it because that is not planned," Ullrich said. "The budget is in place, the activities are in place. The R15 was planned to be a car that runs for two years, with for sure an improvement step over the winter, but for sure not doing a nearly new car. This was not planned."
He said Audi could not decide its plans for 2010 until the ACO's final decision on the rules.
"There are some clarifications that have to be worked on," said Ullrich. "What is important for us is that we can continue with the concept of our car. But we still need to be competitive. And before the final wording of the rules are not there we cannot say if this is achieved or not.
"It is a program for two years and if you can't continue after one year, then that is always bad. But I hope we can find a solution.
"We have to find a path from now to Le Mans. If the rulebook allows to take this path with just some last development on the existing car, I think it is a good move for Le Mans and it should be prepared on the level that we have been in previous years. The way to Le Mans is clearly defined."
Ullrich believes that if the rules remained unchanged Audi will be much better prepared to take on Peugeot than it was this year. Although it lost the Petit Le Mans to the 908s yesterday, Audi believes it is closing the gap to the French cars.
"We have not been happy with what we achieved at Le Mans for sure, but the car was just not ready," Ullrich admitted.
"We just use this race weekend for racing, for getting more experience with the car and we think that we just need a little bit of time to exploit the whole potential of the car. That is what we are working on and racing is the best chance to do it."