VW (VAG Group) is planning to enter Formula 1 from 2026 with the Audi and Porsche brands, and Red Bull Racing sees itself as the first option for partnership, TJ13 can confirm serious talks have started which will see one of the brands, most likely Porsche, enter F1 as engine partner with Red Bull.
While Formula 1 is currently undergoing a winter break after what was probably the most memorable season of all time, at least on the track, things are heating up behind the scenes in the pinnacle of motorsport. Just three days after the finale in Abu Dhabi, the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council met in Paris to discuss the future of Formula One. The focus was on the new engine regulations that will come into force in 2026.
VW decision to be made in March
The Volkswagen Group, with its Porsche and Audi brands, has been flirting with becoming an engine supplier to the racing series for some time. The man who is driving the prestigious Formula 1 project at the world’s largest car manufacturer is Fritz Enzinger, an Austrian.
The 65-year-old Styrian serves as Volkswagen’s Group Motorsport Director and enjoys an extremely high reputation in the industry. Enzinger experienced BMW’s achievements in Formula 1 at first hand in positions of responsibility and then led Porsche back to the top of the world as head of the motorsport department.
However, the board of directors has the final say. According to information uncovered by TJ13, the final decision will be made in March and at the moment it looks as if the VW Group will enter Formula 1 at least with Audi or Porsche. But an entry of both brands is still possible although Porsche remains the favourite.
Engines to become cheaper and more environmentally friendly
The fact that the pinnacle is more attractive than ever for potential newcomers is due to the new engine regulations. The core remains a 1.6-litre turbo engine with six cylinders. The electric power is to increase, but the so-called MGU-H will be dropped. This engine component converts exhaust gases into electrical energy, but its development and production are enormously complex and costly.
In addition, there is to be a separate cost ceiling for the units. The implementation of the two points mentioned were central demands of the VW group.
Red Bull shows willingness to talk
The two British historic racing teams McLaren and Williams as well as Red Bull Racing are repeatedly mentioned as possible cooperation partners. After the announcement of Honda’s withdrawal at the end of the 2021 season, the Austrian team founded its own engine department called “Red Bull Powertrains Limited” in order to be able to manufacture and maintain the drive unit itself in future.
Honda has pledged its support for this venture and is leaving the Japanese engine to Red Bull. In addition, the Austrian racing team poached high-ranking engineers from the competition.
Nevertheless, the team of world champion Max Verstappen could officially work with an engine partner again from 2026. Further, such a legacy from the ashes of Honda, now sustained by Milton Keynes power trains, is an attractive offering to Porsche as they would benefit from a big head start in technology and existing IP.
For the entry candidates Porsche and Audi, a partnership with Red Bull would be the best option if they want to compete for podiums and victories in Formula 1 from the very beginning rather than lagging behind.
And cooperation with the VW Group would also be tempting for Red Bull. On the one hand, the team could benefit from the prestige of a brand like Porsche or Audi, and on the other hand, the racing team (with sister team AlphaTauri in tow) would still have the status of a factory team.
Because it is unlikely that Porsche or Audi will supply more than one team each. In an interview with Austrian media in Salzberg last week, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko confirms the interest: “Should the VW Group decide to enter Formula 1, we would be the first port of call.” he said with typical Austrian confidence.
The fact is, Red Bull has flirted with Volkswagen Group before and Marko has a friendly relationship with Wolfgang Porsche, who is chairman of the supervisory board at Porsche and a member of the supervisory board at VW Group, would certainly not be a disadvantage for future negotiations.
Back in 2014, Red Bull flirted with the VW Group after problems with Renault. At the time, however, the Wolfsburg-based company’s entry into the pinnacle failed due to the emissions scandal, among other things.
What is certain, however, the decision in March is really the last piece of the puzzle for a new deal to be done between Red Bull Racing and VW.