Volkswagen’s project to enter Formula 1 took another important step last week with a successful meeting of the group’s management board, after approval by the management and supervisory boards. This means that Audi and Porsche’s plans are in full swing, but they are depending on other things to happen to get off the ground.
The main one, of course, is the approval of the 2026 power division rules. The technical part has been well defined since September last year, and also since then, the biggest hurdle is financial. That’s because the rules will be different for those who enter and for those who are already in the category, and the demarcation of this is more difficult than it might seem.
“Firstly, we are delighted that Audi and Porsche want to enter F1, this is good for the sport,” Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said. “Regarding the laws themselves, we know the goal is to complete them by June and vote on them. There are clear arguments about the financial issue, but they are not related to their entry, as the regulations were created with that in mind. .”
In practice, the main thing for Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault is to give Red Bull an advantage because they must have financial and technical cooperation with Porsche to develop what will be the first power unit of Red Bull Powertrains.
This company is new, but they acquired the intellectual property of Honda, which continues to supply engines to Red Bull and AlphaTauri, although they already have the RBPT name. And from 2026 onwards, Porsche would enter the race, perhaps in the same position as Honda.
“So, how do we define a new dealer?”, asked Binotto. “What are the benefits of the new distributor? These are things that need to be clarified and clarified. In addition, there is the issue of the transfer of intellectual property rights, because this should not be allowed. This has been explained and we need to translate it into words.” [para colocar nas regras]. There are a lot of things to finish by June and it’s a lot of work in a short time, so the priority is high.”
Porsche must cooperate with Red Bull. And Audi can buy the team
On the part of the manufacturers of the Volkswagen group, it is still important to define exactly how the operation of each of them will be. While Porsche is expected to sign a marketing and technology deal with Red Bull, Audi’s entry is more serious.
They would develop their own engine, independently and use part of what Porsche itself has developed in recent years for F1. After all, although the power unit that F1 will adopt in 2026 is new, the technology used is not very different from the changes of 2014. It is UP with great power resulting from energy recovery, even at the end of the complex MGU. -H, with a combustion engine powered by 100% fuel from renewable sources.
However, Honda’s lessons cannot be ignored. They suffered at first by coming a year after the move in 2014. Finally the Japanese got there, but at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
One lesson they learned from the Japanese is that the F1 power unit is so complex that integration between the car design and the engine is critical to success, so just going in as a supplier is not a good idea.
With that in mind, Audi is looking into buying a team, not least because starting one from scratch would cost more. There was talk of McLaren, but this was rejected several times and lost speed. Among the teams that can be sold like Haas and Alfa Romeo/Sauber, the latter makes the most sense due to its Swiss operation with its own well-equipped factory, while Haas buys its chassis from Dallara and relies more on Ferrari technically. And Audi talks to them.
Another solution could be Aston Martin. They are Mercedes customers, but Lawrence Stroll has been looking to change the status of the team in his own way, trying to buy Mercedes HPP, which makes engines for the first team and customers. If that way is blocked for him, one solution would be to cooperate with Audi.
Remember that everything is designed precisely for an automaker like Audi to be interested in F1, including the introduction of the budget limit last year. If there’s one big test of whether this will work, it’s now.