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Volkswagen Group CEO confirms Audi and Porsche will enter F1

NEWS STORY
02/05/2022

Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group has confirmed that both Porsche and Audi are to enter F1 in 2026.

In an interview broadcast by Volkswagen on YouTube, Diess cited the increasing popularity of the sport as the reason for two of his company's brands making the move.

"If you do motorsport, you should drive Formula 1," he said. "That's where the effect is greatest.

"Formula 1 is developing extremely positively worldwide," he added, in a nod to the changes to the sport since 2017 when Liberty Media took control.

Of course, other than the sport's increasing popularity, widely put down to initiatives such as the Drive to Survive series on Netflix, Volkswagen is attracted by F1's ever improving green credentials, not least the new engine formula proposed for 2026 which will be increasingly electric.

"You can't get into Formula 1 unless a technology window opens," said Diess. "You need a rule change to get in there.

"You need a new engine development and to make the new engine development, you need three or four years," he added. The current engine regulations are now in their ninth season.

"We assume that in '26, '28 it will still be the biggest motorsport spectacle in the world, even more so than today," he continued. "More in China, more in the USA than today and thus also the largest marketing platform for premium vehicles."

However, adding to the confusion as to why one manufacturer would essentially enter two brands which would be essentially competing against one another, he admitted that there is still the possibility of only one of the iconic brands making it on to the grid.

"At Porsche this is already relatively concrete, at Audi not so much," he said. However, he is adamant that parent company, Volkswagen, will not be involved. "VW will not be involved, it doesn't fit and the brand will not participate.

"Markus Duesman always tells me, you usually make up one second per season on a medium-sized race track simply by optimising details," he said, referring to the chairman of Audi and former BMW F1 head of powertrains. "But you can't catch up on that when you join a new team: you need five or 10 years to be among the front runners. In other words, you can only get onboard if you have a major rule change.

"That's coming now, and it will also come in the direction of 2026, when the engines will be electrified to a much greater extent, including with synthetic fuels. That means you need a new engine development and you need three or four years to develop a new engine.

"That means you can decide now to do Formula 1 - or then probably not again for 10 years. And our two premium brands think that's the right thing to do, and are prioritising it."

While Audi has been linked with a buy-out of the McLaren team, Porsche has been linked as a partner to several teams including Red Bull, Aston Martin, McLaren, Williams and Sauber.

Porsche would be returning to the grid for the first time in thirty years, while Audi which has been scaling back its motorsport activities, most likely due to its possible F1 intention, would be making its debut in the "pinnacle of motor sport".

Porsche, as well as being contracted to remain in Formula E until 2024, is currently in the throes of preparing for its return to sports cars in 2023 when its twin-turbo hypercar will contest a number of races including Le Mans.

"Porsche has to be the sportiest car brand in the world, so Porsche has to do motorsport," explained Diess. "And you come to the conclusion, if Porsche does motorsport, the most efficient thing is to do Formula 1. You almost have to put a check mark on that.

"Audi is a much weaker brand than Porsche. It can't demand such a high price premium. Audi actually has the better case for Formula 1 because it has much greater potential for the brand. They are moving into the higher segments, into competition with Daimler, and then Audi will also have a case where they say that makes sense. Audi also transfers four or five billion a year to Wolfsburg, and it will also transfer more with Formula 1 than without.

"Then you simply run out of arguments. You can say, 'But I don't believe in Formula 1', but there are good arguments that say Formula 1 will grow, even in the future. Why should you restrict them, if they then deliver more money?

"The discussion on the board was not unanimous," he admitted. "We certainly have other priorities strategically. It's not necessarily motorsport, but our cars have to be technically up to date, we have to be able to drive autonomously, we need the software capabilities, we need batteries for our cars. We have enough to do and we don't really need to do Formula 1.

"But our premium brands say that's the most important lever to increase the brand value and to be able to take a little bit more for the cars in terms of pricing. And also to demonstrate to the competition that you have superior technology, in the case of Audi.

"That's why the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board have all voted in favour of this. Audi still has to decide in which constellation and with which team. But both have started to develop engines."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ARL, 05/05/2022 22:36

"Audi a much weaker brand than Porsche? Thanks boss! Only a CEO could be that grateful for the billions sent to Wolfsburg each year.

The final comment that they have both started developing engines is interesting. Good luck to the FIA accountants (and Max :)) sorting the pfennigs out within the VW Group and /or the VW group and a part owned Porsche(if the partial IPO goes ahead), and/or the Red Bull engine operation.

IIRC Horner suggested the other day may qualify as a new engine manufacturer in '26. Presumably the current Red Bull engines will turn out to really have been Hondas all along and Red Bull just polish the cam covers in that new engine faclility with all the design engineers they pinched from Mercedes.

So is that 1,2 or 3 bites at the new engine budget limits in '26?

As Max points out, history will be repeating itself after Dr Ferdinand Porsche designed the Auto Union F1 car as well as the first fossil fuel/electric Lohner–Porsche Hybrid in 1898. Just don't mention his membership number 5 634 287. (Just a youthful whim from '37 to '45)

Too bad the FIA/Liberty only remember back as far as Silverstone '50."

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2. Posted by kenji, 04/05/2022 2:07

"@ NS Biker. I would hazard a guess and say the both entities, Porsche and Audi, are very well advanced in all the areas that you have mentioned. To thinkl otherwise would be naive. These organisations are super professiuonal and would have many different scenarios mapped out and are simply awaiting the results of top level negotiations. You seem to gloss over the fact that both of these brands are fully engaged in high end series and have been for a very long time. Porsche already have advanced modelling and bench testing of an F1 engine and if you consider the fact that the '26 units will be far simpler then they will be well armed when they make their long awaited debut.
"

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3. Posted by NS Biker, 03/05/2022 18:48

"Lots of talk and hype, but after reading all the press, I still don't know who is planning to do what.
The only thing we have is the when, 2026. Great.
Is Audi or Porsche doing power-trains, or both.? That would be silly.
Is either going to field a separate entry onto the grid.? This means designing, building and testing a chassis and assembling a full-on team to do it. No easy task.
Yes they might buy an existing team, but who is doing it and when will it be confirmed.?
Three rules of Project Management.
a. What are you going to do. Clearly defined.
b. When is it going to be done and by whom.
c. How is it going to be paid for.
All they are saying is the when. That is clearly the easiest part.
"

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4. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 03/05/2022 8:25

"Brand, returns, price premiums...

What about the passion to race?

Maybe I'm out of touch but I can't see the likes of Sir Frank Williams, Colin Chapman, Bruce McLaren, Brabham having decided to go racing based on brand, returns and premium pricing (returns for cars).

Rather than talk about all the technical and sales side of things, how about: "we want to compete and beat the best cars in the world on the best tracks so we can show what we are capable of." "We love to compete and win.""

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5. Posted by Max Noble, 03/05/2022 5:59

"Interesting that he dances around the Auto Union racing history pre-WW2. That was when Audi started racing at the pinnacle of motor sport - 1934 to 1939… the original Silver Arrows (along with Mercedes back then)."

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6. Posted by kenji, 03/05/2022 0:37

"@Defiant...FYI there are many good articles avaiable on the basis of the new for '23 WEC Hypercar engine specs and that both Audi and Porsche have entries. Their expertise in hybrid power units is prodigious and they will be a force to be reckoned with from day1..IMO. AFAIK Mercedes have not entered the WEC series yet? "

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7. Posted by kenji, 03/05/2022 0:13

"@Defiant...Likewise the statement is somewhat confusing but I read it as saying that ,as rumored, Porsche may not be on the grid as a new team or as a team owner but as a 'supplier partner'. whereas Audi, as rumored, may be entering F1 as a new team or buying an existing team and renaming it Audi. Porsche have not, to my knowledge, been proposed as filling the latter role. What he means by possibly only one making it onto the grid would mean is that only one brand as a new team. We will all find out sooner rather than later. The good point is that they will both be there in some shape or form and that's great."

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8. Posted by Defiant, 02/05/2022 16:17

"I'm pleased that we have new manufacturers entering the sport but what a confusing man, I wonder if he had Bernie as a teacher. First paragraph says the two brands are CONFIRMED, then near the end there is still a possibility of ONLY ONE of the iconic brands making it on to the grid.

hmmmmmmmmmmm"

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9. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 02/05/2022 15:55

"Will Audi buy out Aston Martin F1 and assume responsibility for completing the Silverstone facility? If it were up to me, I would think partnering with Williams would be their best bet. Gets them the publicity without the full outlay of owning a team."

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10. Posted by kenji, 02/05/2022 14:12

"Quality marques with extensive racing heritage entering F1 can't be a bad thing. It also gives the series an opportunity to possibly see additional teams being added and guaranteed supply of competitive power units. I would have loved to see this happening before '26 though. Another four years with the status quo is too long to wait. All things considered, a very positive outcome.

@Burton... yes, the grid could accomodate another two teams, I think. The problem though is that at most tracks cars are tripping over each other, adding more teams will ony exacerbate that aspect besides some tracks would need to be replanned as even now they are having difficulties with big cars and narrow tracks."

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11. Posted by Burton, 02/05/2022 12:47

"If there's no new teams I'm not excited in the slightest by this. Having more races than cars on the grid is a joke."

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