Porsche, Volkswagen and Formula 1 Joe Saward's Grand Prix Blog
Joe Saward's Grand Prix Blog
October 4, 2010 by joesaward
The merger between Volkswagen and Porsche, which will be completed in 2011, could result in the group taking a look at Formula 1 racing â€“ at least that is the opinion of Matthias MĂĽller, Porscheâ€™s new chief executive.
MĂĽllerâ€™s job is to significantly increase Porsche sales in the years ahead. At the moment both Porsche and Audi compete in sports car racing, but this makes no sense in the future.
â€śWe have to discuss whether it makes better sense for one of the brands to go into LMP1, and the other brand into F1,â€ť he said, adding that there will need to be discussion about this before any decision is made. There is an argument that the Audi brand has no real place in F1 and that if the group is going to enter Grand Prix racing, it must do so with a band such as Porsche, although it might also pick Bugatti, Lamborghini or the long unused AutoUnion if it wanted to do so. The aim, of course, is to sell more cars and so AutoUnion makes little sense as there are no cars built with that name â€“ at least for the moment. The Bugatti brand is ĂĽber-exclusive and thus is probably not a sensible brand for F1 at the moment. The Bugattis will sell themselves to collectors. The 1,000hp Veyron 16.4, which was launched back in 2005, is limited to a production run of 300, while the $2.4 million Super Sport version, which boasts 1,200 hp, will come in a limited edition of 30. In July one of these cars set a new land speed record for production cars at 268mph, driven by former F1 driver Pierre-Henri Raphanel, at the VW proving grounds at Ehra-Lessien. This will be the last of the Veyrons with plans for a four-door Bugatti Galibier in 2013, although this too is a collectorâ€™s car, similarly restricted to a run of 300. Bugatti boss Franz-Josef Paefgen hinted a few years ago that the company could take the new car racing, but the chances are that this would be a sports car programme. F1 will only be a sensible route for the brand if it moves the brand a little more into the McLaren-Ferrari segment of the market. Lamborghini is a possible brand for F1, but there is no history on which to build.
Porsche is thus the brand that makes sense in F1 (right now) as it has been involved in F1 on several occasions in the past, notably in the early 1960s when the team ran the 718 and Dan Gurney took a win at the French Grand Prix at Rouen in 1962. In the early 1980s Porsche-built TAG Turbo engines powered McLarens to a string of impressive victories, but Porscheâ€™s own V12 project in 1991 was a disaster.
Porsche wants to use the sport to promote its technology and so it is logical for the company to enter the sport in 2013 when engine competition opens up again with a new formula, which will give newcomers the chance to compete on a level playing field with the current F1 manufacturers â€“ if they decide to stay. The plan is for 1.6-litre turbocharged engines with energy-recovery systems, which would be perfect for Porsche.The logic is to return to the sport as an engine supplier with at least two teams, in much the same way as the current manufacturers are doing. As to which teams would be bestâ€¦ we will have to wait and see.