Audi and Porsche owner Volkswagen is likely to give the green light for the two brands to make their entry into Formula 1 at a meeting next week, two sources familiar with the developments said yesterday.
“We will hopefully be able to communicate our intention to enter into Formula One then,” one of the sources said, with the second adding there was a “good chance” of a positive decision.
After conquering and dominating endurance racing, Le Mans included with both Audi and Porsche over the years, many times starting with their 917 programmes and a myriad of legendary campaigns for the Stuttgart brand over the years. Culminating with their last LMP1 victory at Le Mans in 2017. Pulling the plug thereafter.
Ditto Audi but to a lesser extent and not so deep into the sport’s history. Nevertheless, the two manufacturers have nothing left to prove at that level. And while the brands’ respective GT3 and GT4 programmes, largely customer-based, thrive, they both lack flagship projects.
While Volkswagen declined to comment on the matter. The news was first reported by Business Insider.
As we previously reported there has long been talk of Audi and Porsche forming partnerships with existing F1 teams, their most likely method of entry into the highest class of international racing.
Audi will offer around 500 million euros ($556.30 million) for McLaren
Audi and McLaren denied reports last year that a partnership between the two brands had already been formed but said that it was under discussion, with a decision to be expected this year.
The source added that Porsche intends to establish a long-term partnership with racing team Red Bull starting in several years’ time.
Volkswagen has not previously been involved in F1 but has worked with Red Bull, notably in the world rally championship. McLaren and Red Bull were not immediately available to comment.
A source told Reuters in November that Volkswagen’s ultimate decision will rest on whether F1 follows through on its plans to switch to synthetic fuels by 2026, and on McLaren’s progress regarding electrification of its vehicles.
Volkswagen has invested the most of any global carmaker by far in electric vehicle production and batteries in an attempt to clean up its image from the Dieselgate emissions scandal and remain in line with governmental carbon reduction targets.
The decision comes as Volkswagen grapples with the uncertainty of the impact of the Ukraine war on its finances, which will also be discussed at next Thursday’s (7 March) meeting. (Reporting by Jan Schwartz)