Porsche have now officially confirmed their pursuit of a place in Formula One is over. The decision has been made following the failure to reach an accommodation with Red Bull Racing together with a lack of urgency on behalf of the German manufacturer to pursue other possible deals out there to be done.
Porsche have been the most visible manufacturer waiting in the wings for the new engine formula that will succeed the present era which began in 2014.
Porsche first manufacturer in FIA working party
The original life span envisaged for the V6 hybrid power units was just 7 years with their replacements scheduled by the FIA for 2021.
Back in 2017 the FIA opened talks with existing constructors and potential new manufacturers over the next generation of engines with a projected introduction date of 2021 but quickly delayed to 2022.
At this time Porsche were the only non-F1 manufacturer to join the working party.
FIA accept Porsche 4-wheel drive proposal
The initial proposal was to vastly simplify the power units, slash costs and promote the entry new manufacturers. The way ahead was to include a much greater number of standardised components and design parameters to make components produced by all manufacturers compatible with one another in a system dubbed “plug in and play”.
Porsche suggested the new formula include four-wheel drive cars with the front axle driven by an MGU-K unit—as opposed to the traditional driveshaft—that functioned independently of the MGU-K providing power to the rear axle. This mirrored a system developed by Porsche for the 919 Hybrid race car.
However, the general lack of interest from non-F1 manufacturers which saw no signatures on the dotted line for 2022 meant the FIA shelved the plan until 2026. They instead opted to freeze the power units from 2022 and develop radical changes in body/chassis aerodynamics to promote closer on track battles and more overtaking opportunities.
But Porsche dithered for 2022
In reality, Porsche failed to step up and throw its hat into the ring so the FIA decided for now the talking shop was over.
After almost a year of further detailed consultation the FIA announced in August 2022 that the new power unit regulations for 2026 had been agreed.
The hopes of petrol heads worldwide were dashed as a return to a more combustion engine V8 type unit had been utterly rejected.
F1 power unit direction change
Many had argued F1 should champion this technology and promote the fast track development of a variety of bio fuels which could then power the world’s several billion automobiles internal combustion engines.
The concern for Formula One is that its failed to differentiate itself properly in the power unit technology. Formula E is the leading racing series brand known for electrical power and the WEC/Le Mans is already ahead with its hybrid power unit developments.
Behind the scenes already manufacturers were circling the F1 teams as Audi held talks with McLaren. Meanwhile Andretti Motorsport were discussing a deal with Sauber and Alpine (for power units) but in the end both negotiations failed.
Porsche talks with Red Bull hit trouble
Still rumours persisted that Ford and GM were interested in joining F1 while during the summer negotiations between Red Bull Racing and Porsche were at an advanced stage.
As the Summer recess ended Christian Horner hinted there were stumbling blocks in the discussions with Porsche and insisting any tie up would be only agreed on the Formula 1 team’s terms and that it would have to fit their racing “DNA.”
Less than a month later, it was over for Porsche.
Red Bull refused to give up control
“Obviously as we’ve been on this journey there’s been some discussion with Porsche along the way – a phenomenal company, great brand,” explained Horner at the Italian GP.
“But it was felt that the fit just isn’t quite right for where we’re going and the journey we’re on.”
“We are a race team fundamentally and that enables us to make quick decisions and react very quickly. I think we’ve seen on so many occasions manufacturers have been less autonomous in their decision-making.
“That was a key aspect of protecting what we have and how we operate, which has proved to be reasonably successful.”
Audi swift action secures F1 future
Porsche had decided to aim high and do a deal with a front running team unlike Audi who were almost simultaneously announcing their tie up for 2026 with Sauber.
However, Porsche failed to recognise their power was limited with Red Bull who were insistent on retaining autonomous decision making capabilities.
Christian Horner had learned the hard way with Renault how difficult it could be to manoeuvre a power unit manufacturer partner if they were stubbornly refusing to comply.
Horner foresaw ‘Corporate decision making’ porblems
Further, when Dietrich Mateschitz bought Jaguar from Ford in 2004 renaming the team Red Bull, Christian Horner inherited an outfit riven with layers of corporate decision making.
As Gary Anderson said recently, “If you were trying to pick the winner of the coveted prize for worst works team of the 21st century, it would be a battle between Toyota and Jaguar (Ford).”
Anderson was the technical director of the team and describes the “systemic failure in how Ford wanted to work and how an F1 team needs to work.”
F1 dream over for Porsche
“We had some very clever individuals from Ford working with us, but they were tied up by Ford’s bureaucracy.
It may have been flashbacks to those early Jaguar transition days or just Porsche’s ego and a god given right attitude that they should be racing with the F1 elite from the get go, which saw Red Bull take to the hills.
Despite Porsche stating they were still pursuing other F1 avenues following the break down of the talks with Red Bull behind the scenes little progressed.
Porsche ‘other commitments’ to m motor racing
Now Porsche is finally closing the door on its Formula One interest which began almost 7 years ago.
“Motorsport will always be at the core of our brand identity,” said a statement from the company. “Formula 1 remains an interesting racing series for us.”
Citing its commitments to WEC and IMSA, as well as FE, Porsche added about its other activities: “There, we want to fight for overall victories. That’s our tradition and our main focus.”
Loss of VP who was driving force
Yet since the retirement in December of Porsche’s vice-president of motorsport Fritz Enzinger, the topic of Formula One has all but disappeared within Stuttgart.
Enzinger was considered the visionary driving Porsche’s Formula One’s ambitions and as Motorsport-Total reveals the employees he tasked with making preparations for entry into F1 have been reassigned to other tasks within the group.
As Andretti appears to be proving, Porsche went about their F1 adventure in the right way – by attempting a tie up with an existing team.
Right route into F1, wrong team
This route in saves hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars over a team start up approach being attempted by Andretti, who may find the entrance fee alone is close to $1bn if the current F1 teams have their way.
Yet Porsche flew too high to the sun. Maybe a deal with Williams should have been the focus for Porsche.
Selecting F1’s top team for a partner was admirable, but failing to understand Red Bull would retain control was foolish.
It will be at least decade before the stars align once more and provide such an excellent window to join Formula One
Perfect time to join Formula One
The cost cap is limiting spending and F1 has one of the closest spread fields the sport has ever seen.
Power units are to be simplified and the FIA’s carbon zero goals are the most corporate eco friendly a motor racing series can look to shareholders.
Whilst these are sad times for those who follow the Porsche racing brand, in reality it was always questionable whether the VAG would get best bang for their buck by having both their premier motor racing brands competing against each other in Formula One.
Red Bull F1 RB7 🆚 Aussie V8 Supercar
📹 x @redbullracing
Which one sounds better? 👇 pic.twitter.com/CZJ9ssmCx0
— Autosport (@autosport) March 27, 2023