PORSCHE PLOTS F1 ASSAULT
Reports claims Porsche is considering a crack at F1
We recently reported Porsche's shock plans to retire the incredibly successful 919 Hybrid from race duties and pull out of the LMP1 category of the World Endurance Championship, including Le Mans, in favour of participation in the all-electric Formula E series. Now it seems Porsche could be plotting an assault on the daddy of race series. Yes, Porsche could be heading for F1.
News from the most recent instalment of the F1 calendar, the Italian Grand Prix, is that Porsche is considering a foray into F1 as an engine supplier. Reportedly Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of Porsche's executive board, had meetings with F1's sporting director Ross Brawn and other senior suits.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Meschke said, “F1 could be one of the right places. As you know Formula E is very important for us now, and F1 is always a good topic to think about. And I think we are in quite good discussions regarding the new engine."
Apparently Porsche's interest is in part a function of plans to move F1 away from its current complex hybrid powertrain solution to a simpler V6 turbo engine from 2021. The main drivers for the new engine rules, which were agreed in principle earlier this year, are to reduce costs and improve the soundtrack while maintaining F1's reputation for being the technical pinnacle of motorsport.
The complexity and expense of the current hybrid engine formula is thought to be the reason why only one new entrant has taken up the challenge of engine manufacturing in F1 during the hybrid era and indeed why that new entrant, Honda, has struggled to create a competitive powertrain. Meanwhile, fan reaction to the relatively muffled engine note of the current turbo V6s has not been hugely positive.
Of course, if Porsche does make a return to F1 for the first time since its relatively uncompetitive efforts supplying engines to the Footwork team in 1991, the big question will be which team it chooses to work with. Ferrari and Mercedes obviously have their own in-house power units. Meanwhile Red Bull is now closely aligned with Aston Martin. Mclaren is crying out for a competitive power unit. But now that it competes directly with Porsche in some segments of the market with its own road-legal sports cars, partnership with Porsche is surely unlikely. All of which seems to leave Williams as the highest profile team looking for a quality works engine deal. Williams-porsches winning world championships in the 2020s? You heard it here first.
Porsche’s last foray into F1 – supplying V12 engines to the Footwork team – was not a great success. Times change, though, and who would bet against Porsche developing a competitive hybrid engine for the new 2021 engine regs?