F1 – Audi – Porsche: it’s time for choices between controversies and courtships

The present of F1 is animated by the genesis of a new generation of single-seaters that is questioning, at least partially, a technological hegemony in the sector of power units, in clear silver tones, which began in 2014.

The first seasons of the turbo-hybrid era were marked by the embarrassing technological advantage of the power unit of the three-pointed star, an architecture on which Mercedes had already been working for several years, as it was able to declare in an interview with the newspaper “La Republic”, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo in February 2017:

Thinking about the facts and looking carefully at the past, I can say that switching to hybrid engines was a serious mistake on our part. Niki (Lauda) has recently stated that Mercedes had been working on power units since 2007, so today’s situation could easily have been foreseen even then. On the flip side, however, I can say that it seemed a right choice to be on the side of innovation. I didn’t want a scared Ferrari“.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo

These days we are seeing a Déjà vu regarding the potential entry of Porsche and Audi into the highest open-wheel single-seater category in 2026.

The scenario is very complex as the masters of steam, Liberty Media and FIAin an attempt to add two historical brands to the starting grid of the 2026 season, are working to meet the requests of the giant from Ingolstadt, the parent company of the brands Audi And Porschethrough a technical regulation adhering to the know-how acquired by the group Volkswagen in the highest prototype category of the WEC.

The stop of the Audi program for the design and construction of the prototype LMDh which was to mark the return to Le Mans, is the tangible sign of a new vision of the commitment of the brand with the four rings in motorsport, without forgetting the official disengagement from the championship of Formula E at the end of last season.

The Volkswagen flag flies outside the Wolfsburg plant

The arrival of Porsche and Audi, highly prestigious brands, had been favorably welcomed by the teams present in the circus, however the definition of the technical regulation that will govern the power units from the 2026 season is the subject of a silent battle.

On the one hand, the ownership of F1 is willing to surrender to the constraints dictated by the Volkswagen group as conditio sine qua non for the entry of its prestigious brands, which are opposed by some manufacturers worried by the excessive openness to the technological constraints dictated by the German giant.

The rivals’ concerns are manifold and not just of a technical nature. In the last few hours the CEO of Alpine, Laurent Rossiwas categorical about the entry of Porsche and Audi:

I think it’s cool and good for sports. But we really have to pay attention to a couple of things, actually. We need to check and make sure that 2 separate teams are truly separate. We have to make sure that if they come into F1 as teams, they are Porsche and Audi work teams. If Audi goes with Red Bull, will it really be Audi or will it have what Honda has done for the Milton Keynes team? Will they have a specific treatment or not? So basically, will the sport be better or worse?“.

The transalpine manager then added:

To facilitate the entry of new houses, these could have the knife on the side of the handle. I think it’s the same concern for most of the teams already there. But above all for us as a team, because we have literally invested billions in the last 20-40 years in Renault power units. It is not the case that someone comes and takes the lion’s share just because they do finds the red carpet stretched out in front of him. Because this could upset our business model, putting many jobs at risk“.

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi

One of the fears is that the synergy between the Red Bull Powertrains and Porsche-Audi structure may be based on the Intellectual property of the current Honda engine, providing the Ingolstadt colossus with a starting point that would cancel in one fell swoop the know-how gap laboriously reached by the manufacturers currently investing.

The damage could also be witnessed mockery in financial terms. In fact, Red Bull is putting pressure on the FIA ​​so that it is recognized the status of the new manufacturer, through the Powertrains structure that manages the former Honda engines, which is unwelcome, to put it mildly, to the other manufacturers already present in F1.

The current format provides that new engineers will be granted a surplus of 10 million dollars for the first two years and 5 million for the third, in addition to an indemnity of 15 million dollars in capital (Capex).

Additional resources that in time of budget cap would be pure oxygen for Red Bull and that could also be used within the scope of the probable partnership with Porsche.

Meanwhile, the lineup of potential customers of future Audi / Porsche power units seems to be expanding according to what was declared by Andreas SeidlMcLaren team principal, to the Swiss newspaper Blick: “Audi and Sauber would be a great choice for the future. The Swiss have a large infrastructure with a wind tunnel and would be ready for such a challenge. “

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl

A somewhat strange statement given that McLaren seems to be one of the two teams, together with Red Bull, designated to receive the largest investments from the Volkswagen group in the event of entry into Formula 1 but which has some elements of validity.

The wind tunnel of Hinwilowned by Sauber, was used for the Audi prototype LMP1 during the successful experience of the German company in endurance races.

A link between the two teams is Jan Monchauxformer head of Audi Sport automotive and aerodynamics, and now Sauber technical director.

On the left, Jan Monchaux, former head of the automotive and aerodynamics sectors of Audi Sport

Furthermore, an acquisition of Sauber would certainly be more attractive financially than McLaren, providing the German giant with the possibility of operating in a context with greater decision-making power.

Another team that could be interested in the entry of Audi and Porsche is the Williams.

There has long been an important relationship between the Volkswagen group and Williams’ top management, whose CEO, Jost Understoodwas responsible for the successful partnership between Volkswagen and Red Bull in 2013-2016 at WRC.

Jost Capito boss of Volkswagen Motorsport in the WRC

An incredible whirlwind of interests, concerns and ambitions that are still not confirmed through a binding decision from the German giant from Ingolstadt, despite having received all the reassurances regarding the technological platform of the engines of the future. The time to dissolve all reservations is running out …

F1-Author: Roberto Cecere@robertofunoat

Photo: F1

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