Porsche's F1 history isn't very well known due to the fact that it wasn’t very successful. With a single Grand Prix victory to its name, the manufacturer hardly set the world of F1 alight. However, ever since it was announced that The Volkswagen Group (which owns the Porsche and Audi brands), was looking into potentially joining F1 for 2026 onwards there is every likelihood that a new F1 chapter for Porsche may yet be written. Now, with new engine rules for 2026 being discussed - this could be more likely than ever.
In 1961, some sixty years ago, Porsche entered a few heavily modified 718s into an F1 season for the first time. A year later, with the much-talented racer Dan Gurney at the wheel, the manufacturer claimed their first Grand Prix victory. After a 54-lap race, Gurney crossed the line in a purpose-built 804, a lap in front of his nearest rival. Sadly though, with Ferrari dominating the sport, it showed there was only room for one black horse in the category and Porsche bowed out at the end of the ’62 season.
Now, discussions are louder than ever as to the prospect of Porsche returning to the pinnacle of motorsport.
Porsche motorsport’s newly appointed vice-president Thomas Laudenbach spoke to select media as quoted by motorsport.com.
Laudenbach, having run Audi Sport, (another Volkswagen Group brand) for the last eight years, has returned to Porsche motorsport – replacing Fritz Enzinger in the process.
Porsche has dominated endurance racing during its history and with the Porsche Carrera Cup, they clearly have a wide fanbase. Therefore, it seems very understandable they would want a piece of the sport which saw 400,000 people descend on Austin over the US GP race weekend. Laudenbach indicated this in his recent remarks:
“If you look at PR values and fanbase and advertising value, Formula 1 is extremely good compared to other series. There is no question about it."
Consequently, it is a hardly a surprise to hear that the Volkswagen Group, has been involved in recent meetings with the FIA and current F1 manufacturers to discuss a potential entry for Porsche (as well as Audi) from 2026.
The timing of this is significant as this is when Formula One’s when new engines rules come into play. However, what will that type of engine look like? Laudenbach shared his thoughts during the press conference on Porsche’s potential F1 future:
"If you look into the future and you look at what car manufacturers are announcing concerning the share of electric vehicles they want to sell in the future, I think it is very important that Formula 1 does a shift towards electrification…Yes, it is clear you can't do such a format with a [fully] battery electric vehicle. We all know that. But there needs to be a much higher priority on the electric part of the powertrain. That is important. As an OEM [original equipment manufacturer], you want to show yourself in motorsport, it needs to be relevant to what happens on the road.”
Following a global pandemic which has decimated the motor industry the issue of cost has never been more important. Laudenbach explained that even more needs to be done to entice the manufacturer and not simply the recently introduced cost cap.
Laudenbach hopes that there will be the option to use more standardised parts in the internal combustion engine.
He stated: "It's not a secret that we are thinking about [F1]. It's not a secret we are talking to the FIA and it's not a secret that we are, let's say, seriously considering it. But there is no decision made yet. From what I know, a lot of things are going to the right direction concerning Formula 1 - how important is the electrification or the electric part of the powertrain…We would like to see more standard parts in the engine, the freedom of electric parts.”
The way the future of the sport is heading does seem to cover these areas which Laudenbach admitted to the media:
“Yes, many of the factors that I mentioned from what we know, they might be coming true…One thing is clear, if such a decision is made you can't wait too long because if you want to race in 2025 you have to start at a certain time. That's where we are.”
The 2021 performance of Uralkali Haas F1 Team has shown how quickly a competitor can be left behind if there car is not developed in line with the others on the grid. This is clearly something Laudenbach wants to avoid:
"If somebody really thinks about entering this championship as a power unit manufacturer, you should always combine that with a major change in the rules so that everybody has to make step and you're not the only one.
It is clear that following the MGU-H being abandoned for new engine rules, the organizes are trying to please current manufacturers and entice new ones.
This is not the first time that Porsche has been tempted to re enter the F1 fray in recent years as they had hoped to convert its World Endurance Championship engine for F1 Grand Prix racing. Sadly, this was quickly abandoned when F1 delayed its rule shakeup to 2026 instead.
As Laudenbach said, one thing is clear, if such a decision is made F1 can't wait too long. One thing that is also clear, is that Porsche fans have waited more than long enough to see their beloved brand return to F1. For now, they will reminisce about the Dan Gurney days with the hope of much more success to come.