But while we'll never know just how good the R18 could have been in 2017, we can feast our eyes on the gorgeous details of one of the most hi-tech racing cars of the 21st century, if not ever. Audi has released this collection of stunning detailed shots of the car that won the final race of the 2016 World Endurance Championship before being confined to the history books.
Both inside and out, the R18 is stunning, from brake ducts the size of most car wheels to the intricate criss-cross patterning of the carbon-fibre left bare in the cockpit, every detail is spectacular. And Audi have very kindly let us look under the skin of the R18 – as you scroll through the gallery above don't miss the intricacy of the packaging around the gearbox casing or the astonishing ducting around the radiators, channelling airflow through the car to maximise downforce.
We think this is our version of modern art. How do you think the R18 could have done had Audi remained in the WEC?