- Deal to purchase 50% stake in Red Bull collapsed
- Exploratory discussions with McLaren failed to progress
- Sister company Audi agreed deal with Sauber
Reports emerged at the end of last season that Porsche had dropped its plans to enter Formula One, but the International Automobile Federation (FIA) insisted that options were still open, noting that the company was ‘still in discussions with Formula One teams’ in a note issued after a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on 19th October.
Porsche also issued a statement in September 2022 outlining that ‘the racing series nevertheless remains an attractive environment for Porsche, which will continue to be monitored’.
Originally, the German manufacturer had been expected to take a 50 per cent stake in the Milton Keynes-based team, even going as far as to trademark the term ‘F1nally’ ahead of the anticipated announcement.
However, following rumours that team principal Christian Horner, chief technical officer Adrian Newey, and motorsport advisor Helmut Marko opposed the loss of independence, the deal fell through at the final hurdle. Now, Red Bull have opted to partner with Ford, a technical partnership that will see the US auto manufacturer provide input rather than taking a controlling interest in the team.
Before this was agreed Audi explored purchase options with McLaren, so it can be assumed that similar conversations were held with Porsche. The issue that Porsche appears to have encountered is that teams are unwilling to give up a majority stake, something the Stuttgart-based company has required from the start to get involved in the sport.
While Audi committed to manufacturing its own engines, something that made its offer to Sauber far more attractive, Porsche was looking to come in and control an existing team. Porsche’s name was not on the list of engine manufacturers confirmed for 2026, although it likely could have used rebadged Audi engines.
Now, with options few and far between, Porsche will have to shelve its plans to join Formula One, at least in the medium term. The reason 2026 is such a major point of focus for potential new entrants is the engine regulation change set for that season.
Not only will this introduce sustainable fuels to the sport, something that makes Formula One much more attractive to manufacturers, engine regulation changes also promise a reset of the competitive order. This is something Mercedes utilised at the last change of the engine regulations in 2014, which began a period of dominance that lasted eight years.
While the FIA has opened up the possibility of at least two new teams joining the grid, this option does not appeal to Porsche due to the substantial costs required in setting up a team from scratch. The interest to enter the sport reportedly remains, but it will be some time before this opportunity arises again.
Back when the Volkswagen Group first announced its intention to enter Formula One under the Audi and Porsche brands, then-chief executive Herbert Diess explained exactly why Porsche will now need to bide its time.
“As Markus Duesman [Audi chairman] always tells me, you usually make up one second per season on a medium-sized race track simply by optimising details,” Diess said, as reported by Sky Sports.
“But you can’t catch up on that when you join a new team: you need five or ten years to be among the front runners. In other words, you can only get onboard if you have a major rule change.
“You can decide now to do Formula One – or then probably not again for ten years.”
It had looked so promising for the German marque. Now, it’s a case of what might have been, especially with Red Bull now dominating the sport. If Porsche had relaxed its demands and opted for a partnership along the lines of what Ford eventually agreed, then it could be associated with the team set to run at the sharp end of Formula One for years to come.
However, it’s surprising that Porsche did not pursue discussions with Williams Racing. The Grove-based team has the facilities to be a top-class outfit, but the investment just is not there at the moment. If Porsche looked past the team’s current performance, the Williams team arguably has the most potential of all ten teams, especially with the amount of advertising inventory currently available on their car.
Plus, this season has shown that it does not take much to shake up the order with the budget cap now in place. After all, Williams has already recorded a top-ten finish this year, something the McLaren team are yet to do.