Volkswagen’s sports-car brand Porsche is close to a deal to enter Formula 1 while Audi’s separate push is less advanced for now.
Porsche’s plans are “quite concrete,” VW Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess said Monday during a town hall in Wolfsburg, Germany, with local residents. While Diess didn’t provide further details, the maker of the 911 sports car has reportedly been in talks with Red Bull Racing about a partnership.
Sister brand Audi’s plan for Formula 1, which has included discussions with British sports-car maker McLaren Group, hasn’t yet advanced to decisions on parameters for such a venture or which team to join, he said.
“According to both premium brands, Formula 1 is the most important lever to boost brand value,” Diess said. “With the plans for a bigger presence in China and the US, the attraction as the biggest motor-racing spectacle is only going to grow.”
VW’s supervisory board last month backed a push for the luxury-car brands to potentially join the competition as early as 2026. Formula 1 intends to switch to synthetic fuels from the same year as part of a plan to become carbon neutral by the end of the decade. The change in technology is a unique opportunity to start competing in the franchise that’s been dominated by Mercedes.
Roll-out of electric cars
“There’s now a technology window to become a part of this,” Diess said. “Otherwise the next option is probably a decade away.”
Both Porsche and Audi have started work on F1 engines, he said, adding that the board’s decision to greenlight formal talks hasn’t been unanimous. VW is pursuing the industry’s biggest roll-out of electric cars, including a plan by Audi to only develop new battery-powered models from 2026.
The brands were successful in presenting a “positive business case” for entering the sport, namely that “with Formula 1 we get more money out of Stuttgart and Ingolstadt than without Formula 1,” Diess said, referring to Porsche’s and Audi’s respective headquarters.