Porsche probably won’t join Formula 1 in 2026, even though the championship is still interesting. This is because the company is thought to have stopped its formal evaluation of a programme.As part of the new rules for engines, the company, which is owned by the Volkswagen Group, planned to join F1 along with its sister brand, Audi.
Since then, it hasn’t looked likely that it will join the grid in 2026, and The Race has heard that Porsche is now focusing on its other racing programmes instead. As part of the 963 Hypercar project, this includes a team entry in Formula E and a high-profile return to the top class at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Porsche is still interested in F1, but it won’t be entering or working with a team in the next few years.This is the end of the best chance Formula One has had to get Porsche back since the disastrous Footwork partnership in 1991.
Porsche is the first company to join the FIA working group.
The original plan for the V6 hybrid power units was that they would only last 7 years. The FIA has set 2021 as the date for replacing them.
Back in 2017, the FIA started talking with existing manufacturers and possible new ones about the next generation of engines. The new engines were supposed to come out in 2021, but the date was quickly pushed back to 2022.
FIA agrees to Porsche’s four-wheel drive plan
The first idea was to make power units much easier to use, cut costs, and make it easier for new companies to get into the market. The way forward was to have a lot more standardised parts and design parameters so that all parts made by different companies could work together in a system called “plug in and play.”
Porsche suggested that the new rules should include four-wheel drive cars with the front axle powered by an MGU-K unit instead of the usual driveshaft. This MGU-K unit would work separately from the MGU-K that powered the rear axle. This was a lot like a system that Porsche made for the 919 Hybrid race car.
But since no non-F1 manufacturers signed up for 2022, the FIA put the plan on hold until 2026 because there wasn’t enough interest from other manufacturers. Instead, they decided to stop changing the power units after 2022 and make big changes to the aerodynamics of the cars’ bodies and chassis to make races closer and give drivers more chances to pass.
But Porsche wasn’t sure about 2024.
In reality, Porsche didn’t step up and throw its hat into the ring, so the FIA decided that for now, the talking shop was over.
After nearly a year of more in-depth discussions, the FIA announced in August 2022 that the new rules for power units in 2026 had been agreed upon.
The hopes of car fans all over the world were dashed when the idea of going back to a more combustion engine V8 unit was completely shot down.
F1 power unit change direction
Many people thought that F1 should be a leader in this technology and speed up the development of biofuels, which could then be used to power the internal combustion engines of the world’s several billion cars.
Formula One’s problem is that it hasn’t done enough to make its power unit technology stand out. Formula E is the best-known racing series for using electric power, and the WEC/Le Mans is already ahead with its hybrid power unit developments.
Behind the scenes, car companies were already looking at the F1 teams while Audi was talking to McLaren. At the same time, Andretti Motorsport was trying to make a deal with Sauber and Alpine for power units, but both talks fell through.
Talks between Porsche and Red Bull run into trouble.
Still, there were rumours that Ford and GM were interested in joining F1, and talks between Red Bull Racing and Porsche were going well during the summer.
As the summer break came to an end, Christian Horner hinted that there were problems in the talks with Porsche. He also said that any partnership would have to be on the Formula 1 team’s terms and fit with their racing “DNA.”
Red Bull wouldn’t give up the lead.
“Of course, as we’ve been on this journey, we’ve talked with Porsche, which is a great company and a great brand,” Horner said at the Italian GP.
“But it was decided that the fit wasn’t quite right for where we are and where we want to go.”
“We are a race team at heart, so we can make decisions and act quickly because of that. I think we’ve seen that manufacturers aren’t as free to make decisions as they used to be.
“That was an important part of protecting what we have and how we work, and it has worked out pretty well.”
F1’s future is secured by Audi’s quick action
Porsche decided to aim high and make a deal with a top team, unlike Audi, which was almost at the same time announcing a deal with Sauber for 2026.
But Porsche F1 didn’t realise they didn’t have much power over Red Bull, which was adamant about keeping the ability to make decisions on its own.
Christian Horner had learned the hard way with Renault how hard it could be to get a partner power unit manufacturer to do what you wanted.
What went wrong with the Red Bull Racing deal?
The “basic” problem that kept Red Bull Racing (RBR) and Porsche from coming to an agreement was ownership rights, of all things. At the start of the 2022 season, RBR had just started its powertrains division. It had bought a lot of the staff, technology, and facilities that Honda F1 Powertrains had used before they left the sport again in 2021.
Porsche F1 saw this as a chance to join the powertrains division with a named ownership stake, so the new name is “RBR Porsche Powertrains.”
RBR didn’t like that plan, though, because they wanted their name to be the only one on the powertrain. Even though other companies helped Alpine and Ferrari with their powertrains, the engines are still called Renault/Alpine and Ferrari, respectively.
With its new powertrains department, RBR is trying to get that prestige and pedigree. They were excited about the engineering help that Porsche could provide, given its long history in all kinds of racing, but the whole thing came down to “No, we don’t want to call our engines Porsche engines.”
This is a very basic explanation for months and months of complicated talks and negotiations, but it wasn’t the only reason the deal fell through. One of the other main reasons was that RBR wasn’t ready to help Porsche F1 financially while it “hijacked” their powertrains facility and built its own facility until 2026, when full integration would happen.
Even though the VW Group would back such a project, it would still take hundreds of millions of Euros to get it up and running on time.
What Can Porsche Do Now
The real meat of this investigation into how or even if Porsche F1 can get into Formula One is what remains on the table for the next three seasons, until the rules change in 2026. The RBR angle is definitely closed at this point, but Germans don’t make big plans unless they have a few backup plans, and that’s definitely true with Stuttgart. So, let’s go over each choice and why it’s a good choice:
Pure Power Unit Supplier
To go down this path, a power unit order would be needed, but Porsche could make power units on its own. If they could agree on a partnership where the Porsche F1 name would be on the car in exchange for some factory support, like how Honda and RBR did, that could help them build up more options for the future. Teams lower on the grid, like Haas or Williams, could benefit from this. A one-to-one power unit deal could be just what those teams need to move up to the middle of the field.
Partnership or Ownership with a Minority Stake
The biggest push from Stuttgart, and by extension VW Group, was to become majority owners of a team, or at least 50/50 partners. The first choice seems to be what Audi did, which was to buy a big chunk of Sauber. RBR and Porsche F1 were interested in the 50/50 option, but when it came down to it, RBR didn’t want to give up the naming rights.
F1 dream over for Porsche
“We had some very clever individuals from Ford working with us, but they were tied up by Ford’s bureaucracy.
It may have been flashbacks to those early Jaguar transition days or just Porsche’s ego and a god given right attitude that they should be racing with the F1 elite from the get go, which saw Red Bull take to the hills.
Even though Porsche F1 said they were still looking into other F1 options after talks with Red Bull broke down, behind the scenes, not much changed.
Loss of VP, who was a driving force
But since Porsche’s vice president of motorsport, Fritz Enzinger, left the company in December, Formula One has almost stopped being talked about in Stuttgart.
Enzinger was considered the visionary driving Porsche’s Formula One’s ambitions and as Motorsport-Total reveals the employees he tasked with making preparations for entry into F1 have been reassigned to other tasks within the group.
As Andretti seems to show, Porsche F1 did the right thing when they tried to get into F1 by trying to join up with an existing team.
The right way into F1, but the wrong team
This way saves hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars over what Andretti is trying to do, which is to start a new team. If the current F1 teams have their way, the entry fee alone could be close to $1 billion.
Yet Porsche F1 flew too high to the sun. Maybe Porsche should have been more interested in making a deal with Williams.
It was smart to choose F1’s best team as a partner, but it was silly not to realise that Red Bull would still be in charge.
At least ten years will pass before such a great chance to join Formula One comes along again.
Formula One is the place to be right now.
The cost cap limits how much can be spent, and Formula One has one of the tightest playing fields the sport has ever seen.
Power units will be made easier to use, and the FIA’s goals of “zero carbon” are the most environmentally friendly thing a motor racing series can say to its shareholders.
Even though this is bad news for fans of the Porsche f1 racing brand, it was never clear that the VAG would get the best value for their money by having both of their top racing brands compete in Formula One.
The Last Thing
A deal like that wouldn’t have been about the F1 team anyway, but it could have opened up options after 2026.
Due to Porsche’s decision to stop testing for F1, Audi will be the only brand from the Volkswagen Group to race in grand prix races after 2026.
The company, which is based in Ingolstadt, already owns 25% of the Sauber team and will be Audi’s factory team in 2026.
Before Audi finally reached a deal with Sauber, there were also serious talks about Audi buying team shares from McLaren.
At the time, Gerhard Berger came up with the idea. When asked by Motorsport-Total.com about this in August 2022, he said, “I got in touch with McLaren.”
Berger put Audi in touch with the royal family of Bahrain, which has a stake in the McLaren Group through the Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund.
But in the end, these talks, which went on for months, also didn’t lead to an agreement.