filter by category
A rumor in the Italian press suggests we’re about to see more executive transitions afoot at the Volkswagen Group. Specifically, this includes Audi-owned outposts quattro GmbH and Lamborghini. In short, the rumor suggests Lambo boss Stephan Winkelmann takes the helm at quattro GmbH and Stefano Domenicali will step in to replace him as chief of Lamborghini.
The rumor, all it is for now, comes from Italy’s Quattroruote who inquired with Lamborghini but was met with no comment for now.
Winkelmann, a German with the stylistic flair and swagger of an Italian, has led Lamborghini since 2005. In that time, the raging bull has seen considerable growth and success.
Stefano Domincali, formerly head of the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team, had more recently come on board with Audi and was the most likely to head up the much-rumored Audi F1 effort. However credible the F1 rumors may or may not have been, the so-called “Dieselgate” situation happened and any plans that were in place now appear to be changed. In the time since the onset of Dieselgate, the contract for Audi Sport boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich was extended and Audi Sport’s commitment to endurance racing (an Ullrich preferred project) appears to have been extended.
What this rumor could mean for Audi and Lamborghini is interesting to consider. What you’re about to read is conjecture on our part, so consider it a reading of the tea leaves based on what we know of Audi’s internal structure.
On the surface, transitioning from the running an established marque like Lamborghini to an in-house performance division like quattro GmbH may seem like a demotion on the surface, however we wonder just how accurate such an assumption would be.
quattro GmbH is currently headed by Heinz Hollerweger. The German executive is a longtime Audi player from the production side, who took over at quattro GmbH when his predecessor Franciscus van Meel departed the position for the competing role at BMW’s performance division BMW M GmbH. From the outside, Hollerweger appeared to be an appointment by former Audi development boss Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, but Hackenberg’s resignation has just been finalized in the wake of Dieselgate and this could mean Hollerweger may be reassigned or even retire depending on his age.
Audi’s in-house performance firm already produces its own cars, operates its own production line and develops its own drivetrains and product. quattro GmbH outproduces Lamborghini if measured by volume, while moving Winkelmann back to Neckarsulm and into the mothership would theoretically help groom him for future higher leadership within Audi. An injection of his own charismatic ease and presence into quattro GmbH at a time when Audi plans to seriously ramp up the division’s presence under the ‘Audi Sport’ branding would also be fortuitous timing and an enticing challenge for the possibly former boss of Lamborghini.
As for Lamborghini itself, Domenicali would bring his own mystique and experience. His position at Ferrari was more of a motorsport management role, but his credentials as heir to the Lamborghini throne seem to make him perfect for the role. If there was an Audi F1 program and if it is stillborn (for now at least), then this would certainly be a good holdover of such a talented executive team member.
Check out more on this story at Road & Track.