With Red Bull Racing and Porsche’s potential joint venture now off, what options are left if the company still intends to enter Formula 1?
After their copyrighting of the word “F1nally”, it seemed as if Porsche were fully intending to make their return to Formula 1. Many media sources were of the belief that the German automotive company would purchase a 50% stake in the Red Bull Racing team. But these plans are now shelved with the Milton Keynes outfit deciding their best choice is to continue their in-house powertrain construction. This has left Porsche, seemingly, in limbo. An uncertain future in Formula 1 before it has even resumed.
The rumours of Audi and Porsche entering Formula 1 have swirled for a long time. Both were believed to be announcing their intentions in synchronicity, as both are owned by the Volkswagen Group. The former’s announcement was made over the Belgian GP weekend, with a very public media presence overseeing a concept car launch bearing the company’s “four rings” logo. It is now speculated that they have found a willing partner in Sauber, who have announced that their association with Alfa Romeo will end at the end of 2023. If Porsche remains committed to entering Formula 1 in time for the engine regulations changes, what options are left on the table for them?
Williams have often changed their engine suppliers over the years. Currently, the team is powered by Mercedes. The team’s joint-longest-ever association along with Renault from 1989 to 1997. Then there is the 5% share in the team that is owned by the Silver Arrows’ boss, Toto Wolff. However, these shares are said to be “reluctantly” owned by Wolff. If the Austrian is open to selling them, then perhaps Williams could enter a new phase with a new power source.
McLaren were initially linked to Audi, but if the rumours of the Audi-Sauber deal are accurate, then Porsche might be an option. Both parties have enjoyed a strong and successful partnership in the past. Porsche supplied engines to McLaren under the TAG name between 1984 and 1987, yielding two Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships during that time.
The only other viable option for Porsche at this moment in time is the proposed Andretti F1 entry. But there are even fewer guarantees are around this option. Earlier this year, Mario Andretti announced that son Michael’s eponymous racing organisation had filed an application to the FIA for a proposed entry into the sport as a manufacturer. They apparently had an engine deal lined up with Renault. However, many leading Formula 1 figures, such as Toto Wolff, have publicly stated their opposition to the plan. There has been even further of the plan since F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali stated that the sport did not need any newer teams. However, F1’s current marketing strategy of appealing to the American fanbase is perhaps going to work in Andretti’s favour. Speaking with Porsche may benefit both parties.
Porsche may wish to enter Formula 1 as their own team, replicating their brief yet relatively successful period in the early 1960s. However, both money & F1’s current stance on the number of teams will be obstacles. An engine partnership with a manufacturer is one thing, but going it alone is another. The costly venture may be enough to put Porsche off of this plan.