► Porsche and VW are looking at F1, again
► Focused around 2025 regulations
► Engine, car or both – to be confirmed
Perhaps we’re entering a golden age of motorsport after all. CAR understands that the VW Group is preparing to join the F1 grid in 2025, and it’ll be under the Audi or Porsche marques – or even both.
It’s a rumour most F1 fans have heard on and off for the last three decades, but this time – thanks to budget caps and an upcoming raft of rule changes – it’s likely to happen.
CAR's F1 correspondent Tom Clarkson confirms that there are strong reasons to be optimistic this time: '[Porsche] is part of the FIA’s engine working group, so they are involved in all of the conversations about the 2025 regs. Word on the street is that they’re real contributors too – they turn up to meetings full of ideas.
'It’s likely that the amount of electric power will be doubled for 2025, which Porsche are keen on. So, yes, I think there’s every chance they’ll join.'
The VW Group's on-off affair with racing
Late last year, VW Group CEO Herbert Diess declared an end to all motorsport activities for the Volkswagen bread, citing electrification as the new priority which entails massive financial challenges.
However, Audi and Porsche were already involved in preliminary discussions with the FIA, sounding out eventual opportunities related to the complete restart of Formula 1 envisaged for 2025.
The group´s German premium brands are now in the final stages of defining their motorsport strategies.
- In February 2021, Porsche was invited to take part in its first FIA meeting for years
- In late March, a delegate of the VW supervisory board agreed to participate in the follow-up get-together which also included AMG Petronas, Alpine Renault and Ferrari, among others
- In April, Audi and Porsche are expected to join as equal partners to discuss the conditions under which they might join the sport
- By the end of May, both Porsche and Audi will submit business plans to their respective boards of directors and the Group suits at Wolfsburg
- If all goes to plan, a memorandum can be expected in late spring or early summer
Why Formula 1, and why now?
In 2021 teams will use cars largely similar to the year before, but in 2022 the sport will undergo one of its biggest changes in a while. Engine parameters will be largely the same, though aero rules are set to be heavily revised – and there’ll a focus on synthetic fuels, as well as a cost cap for the first time ever. Three years later, in 2025, the current V6 + hybrid power engine (MGU-H + MGU-K) formula will be examined, too. It’s this opportunity, and ability to meld the rules to a more attractive scenario, that has the VW Group sniffing around.
Oliver Blume, the man at the top of Porsche, is cautiously optimistic: ‘True, F1 is the top tier of motorsports, and we follow it closely. But to turn it into [a] viable business case which dovetails with our core brand values, the regulations need to change so that Porsche can broadly identify with the new environment-friendly priorities. Synthetic fuels are only a first step in the right direction.'
Audi´s Markus Duesmann was not available for comment, but his spokesman flatly denied that F1 is an option: ‘At this point in time, a budget extension of about 200m euro per season won't wash with the board of directors or our works council.' But according to the Wolfsburg grapevine, the last word on the matter has not yet been spoken – and the teams’ budget cap for 2021 has already already been lowered to 135m euro.
In reality, though, it’s possible both are already beginning to think like Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes, who believes that a strong future lies ahead of top-league motor racing: ‘To me, the advantages are clear-cut. For a start, the PR benefit easily beats the financial input. That's why I have always treated F1 as an asset, never as a cost centre.’
How it could work
According to those in the know, Porsche favours the all-inclusive package solution: own car plus own engine plus own team. Oddly enough, though, not even the Porsche execs are quite sure what Audi Sport has in mind, or even whether the premium brand from Ingolstadt is really serious about this venture.
If one or both brands decided to concentrate merely on providing a world-class F1 engine, the most likely taker is said to be Red Bull, whose contract with Honda expires at the end of the 2024 season. Other possible candidates are McLaren and Williams, which are currently managed by former senior Porsche and VW petrolheads.