03 May 2022

By: Sport Industry Group

German car companies Audi and Porsche have decided to enter Formula 1, according to Volkswagen Chief Executive, Herbert Diess.

Speaking at an event in Wolfsburg, where Volkswagen is based, Diess explained that Porsche's preparations were more concrete than Audi's, without specifying details.

Reports suggest that Porsche is preparing an alliance with UK-based racing team Red Bull. Porsche would partner with the team's new engine division, which has been set up to design and build the drinks brand's own power-unit for the new engine regulations due in Formula 1 in 2026, and the team would run as Red Bull-Porsche.

Audi would look to take a different approach by buying out an existing Formula 1 entrant. It is thought that Audi has held talks with McLaren, Sauber, Aston Martin and Williams about securing a deal.

Diess said discussions about Formula 1 at board level had created divisions within the group. He explained that Audi and Porsche bosses, whose brands are VW's biggest income generators, argued as to whether entering Formula 1 would make financial sense.

According to Diess, the timing of the decision has been heavily impacted by the sport's new engine regulations that will come in for the 2026 season.

He said, "As Markus Duesman (Audi chairman) always tells me, you usually make up one second per season on a medium-sized racetrack simply by optimising details. But you can't catch up on that when you join a new team: you need five or 10 years to be among the front runners. In other words, you can only get onboard if you have a major rule change.

"That's coming now, and it will also come in the direction of 2026, when the engines will be electrified to a much greater extent, including with synthetic fuels. That means you need a new engine development and you need three or four years to develop a new engine. That means you can decide now to do Formula 1 - or then probably not again for 10 years. And our two premium brands think that's the right thing to do, and are prioritising it."

There has been rumours around the VW Group entering Formula 1 for years. It has previously refrained for entering due to engine rules, and the desire to see the sport become more sustainable. Last year, then Porsche Motorsport vice-president Fritz Enzinger told BBC Sport the company was again considering an entry, as long as the new engine rules went in a way that suited it.

Now that Formula 1’s new engine will run on fully sustainable fuels, a non-negotiable requirement for a VW Group entry, it appears it is ready to seriously consider joining the sport.


Image: Shutterstock