Formula 1 | Two totally separate projects for Audi and Porsche in F1?

Audi and Porsche, of the Volkswagen group, seem closer than ever to entering F1.

Audi is still in discussion to buy an F1 team: after McLaren, Alfa Romeo, Williams and Aston Martin F1 were the names mentioned… As for Porsche, the project is clearer: to form an alliance with Red Bull to take over the Red Bull program Powertrains and become a motorist.

However, even if the two brands belong to the same German group, they could embark on very different paths in F1. According to information from The Race, Audi would like to become a full-fledged engine manufacturer, and take an important part in a current team, without joining an existing project like Porsche with Red Bull Powertrains. Or make the same mistake as Honda with McLaren (being a simple engine manufacturer with no influence on the team).

In other words, Audi would like to develop a completely different engine than Porsche in F1. Thus two brands from the same group would be involved in two competing teams, and above all with two independent power unit development projects.

A project that would make sense despite appearances?

This does not seem logical from the point of view of the Volkswagen group and economic synergies: indeed, why duplicate the development of two projects?

With power unit budgets currently not capped (but F1 is discussing this), that would mean embarking on a costly arms race. Even though the automotive sector is going through a major crisis (transition to electric, shortage of components, European regulations, etc.).

But in reality, relations between Audi and Porsche remain difficult in the world of motorsport: thus in the WEC as in Formula E, the two brands have stayed apart.

Developing two engines with different philosophies would even make sense, against all appearances, for several different reasons.

The main motivation would be related to engineering, to gather more information on the technical level. Porsche would thus benefit from the contributions of the Honda-Red Bull Powertrains heritage (much to the anger of Honda?).

For its part, Audi could explore other solutions independently. While drawing inspiration, paradoxically, from the late Porsche engine project in F1, abandoned in 2018 (a V6 had been put on the test bench with a draft energy recovery system).

In addition, since the power unit regulations in 2026 should be simplified (same heat engine, MGU-H abandoned), Audi’s project would also be more affordable. Audi is said to have even started developing its all-new engine.

Which team for Audi?

Audi would therefore like to exert a great influence on its new team-partner. Given the entry ticket, the brand would not come to make up the numbers and appear as a simple sticker on the cars.

The problem is that two teams cited for a takeover, including McLaren and Williams, do not seem to sell. McLaren to retain its independence; and Williams, because the owners, Dorilton Capital, arrived relatively recently and seem reluctant to abandon their plans as well.

For Lawrence Stroll, selling the Aston Martin F1 team could also be surprising: the CEO is committed to a strategy at the level of the global Aston Martin brand; the team is also considering becoming its own engine manufacturer and building a new factory at Silverstone. But if the 2022 season is such a way of the cross, will Stroll father change his mind? Besides, Aston would be a partner of choice, with the financial support of Aramco, or engineering resources in terms of fuel.

Sauber, now a partner with Alfa Romeo, might be a more credible lead. Especially since in Hinwil, the infrastructures are of high quality: Audi has even used them to develop its LMP1 in the past. Finally Sauber already has a successful history of partnering with other major manufacturers, such as BMW.

It remains to be seen whether Volkswagen will be able to impose its decision on its two brands, so that they make progress together. However, the past examples of the WEC and Formula E do not argue in this direction.

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