“F1nally” back? The chequered past of Porsche in Formula 1

Classic Porsche F1
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As Porsche prepares to return to F1, LWOS takes a look back at the company’s previous forays into the pinnacle of motor racing.

With the news that Porsche have trademarked the word “F1nally” (accompanying their 50 percent stake in Red Bull Racing), it looks as if the German automotive giants are close to confirming their re-entry into Formula 1, with the whispers and rumors pointing towards a link-up with Helmut Marko’s team from 2026.

Porsche have not been averse to success in motorsport, with notable victories coming in the Le Mans 24 Hours and other forms of endurance racing. But their history in Formula 1 has seen mixed results and a number of decades without any involvement.

Its first foray into single-seater racing was in Formula 2 in 1958, entering a center-seated version of their two-seater sportscar – the 718. This was soon followed by a fully converted version – the 718/2. And in 1960, the car came first in the F2 Constructors’ Championship, with race wins coming courtesy of Sweden’s Jo Bonnier and the legendary Sir Stirling Moss.

Works team dreams

In the background, the development of a planned Formula 1 entry was well underway, and in 1961, this came to fruition. Bonnier was joined by Dan Gurney, and the pair took the team to third in the Constructors’ Championship, with a total of three podiums.

Despite Ferdinand Porsche’s apparent displeasure with 1961 and wish to abandon the Formula 1 project, Porsche continued into 1962. Gurney would earn two podiums, the first being the team’s only win at Rouen in France, earning the American fifth in the Drivers’ standings. Despite the promise it showed, Porsche withdrew from Formula 1, and would not reappear in any form for over two decades.

Return as a supplier

In 1983, McLaren were developing an engine with Porsche and TAG, and would debut it in the back of their car at the Dutch Grand Prix. But this race, plus the remaining three afterward, would garner no results. 1984 would see the engine propel McLaren to title success, with Niki Lauda snatching the title off team-mate Alain Prost by just half-a-point. The partnership would see Prost win the title in 1985 and 86, with two Constructors’ wins before McLaren partnered with Honda, starting in 1988.

1991 would see the last involvement of Porsche in F1, supplying engines for the British Footwork Arrows team. The engine was a double V6, and was allegedly two V6 TAG engines from the McLaren partnership, without the now-outlawed turbochargers. The overweight engine would see no points finishes and non-qualifications, and by the seventh round, Arrows dumped Porsche for Cosworth engines.

Since then, Porsche has shown little desire to re-enter F1 in any format, instead choosing to concentrate on its sportscar output. But with this now scaled-back, and all signs pointing towards the marquee series in single-seater motorsport, the black horse of Stuttgart looks ready to be galloping towards lights-out in Formula 1 very soon.

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Featured Image Credit:  Bernard Cahier/Getty Images