Every couple of months, there are new headlines about how Porsche and, to a slightly lesser extent Audi, are very interested in Formula 1. So interested that they’re attending every meeting constructors are, offering opinions on how future regulations should look and chatting up top execs at different teams behind closed doors. Still, neither Volkswagen-owned brand has officially confirmed its involvement. That may change in as few as two weeks, however, according to a report out of Germany.
Supposedly, only approval from Volkswagen’s board of directors stands between Red Bull and Porsche joining forces, according to MotorsportTotal.com. Put another way: Both parties are certain they want to work together, which means that they’re probably going to end up working together. From the report, translated by Google:
Apparently these talks are now entering the home straight. According to information from ‘Motorsport-Total.com’, the only thing missing is the approval of the supervisory bodies within the Volkswagen Group to finally seal Porsche’s return to Formula 1. This could take place in March, as long as there are no surprising stumbling blocks lurking in the last few meters.
You might wonder what use Red Bull might have for Porsche, as the Austrian team essentially purchased Honda’s powertrain tech and some of its engineering talent after the Japanese automaker announced its departure from Formula 1 in late 2020.
The arrangement between Honda and Red Bull at the moment is sort of dubious, but the long and short of it is that Honda essentially scrapped its exit strategy after winning the championship last year. Unplanned success has a habit of doing that.
As of now, Honda will continue working alongside Red Bull for 2022 — something indicated by the tiny “HRC” logos on the upcoming Red Bull and AlphaTauri chassis — until the end of 2025. Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has been quite happy about the renewal of this partnership in his discussions with the media, because why wouldn’t he be? Courtesy of Motorsport.com:
“We have now also found a completely different solution to the one originally envisaged,” Marko told Autorevue magazine.
“The engines will be manufactured in Japan until 2025, we will not touch them at all. That means that the rights and all these things will remain with the Japanese, which is important for 2026 because it makes us newcomers.
As Marko alludes, at the end of 2025, things change. A lot. That’s when the existing power unit development freeze — a decision made by the FIA because it didn’t want to leave Red Bull engine-less, ironically — ends and the new regulations that Porsche and Audi are so excited for kick in. As my colleague Bradley said on his Flat Sixes blog, “While Red Bull could theoretically engineer its own powertrain for the 2026 regulations, there’s practically nobody better prepared to build a small displacement engine and electric motor than LMP1 champions and Formula E competitors Porsche Motorsport.”
MotorsportTotal adds that Red Bull hosting its own powertrain development on site in Milton Keynes might’ve actually helped seal the deal, because it would be too expensive for Porsche to do all of the heavy lifting in Weissach. From the report:
Theoretically, a model with two locations would be conceivable. In Milton Keynes, Red Bull is building the perfect conditions with Red Bull Powertrains to be able to develop the chassis and engine under one roof. At the same time, the existing Porsche Motorsport location in Weissach could also do some groundwork in the area of powertrains.
Meanwhile just down the hall from Porsche, Audi is reportedly continuing its negotiations with McLaren and Williams simultaneously. The fact Williams is still being mentioned alongside McLaren on this subject is a little surprising, given that brief but extremely weird brouhaha over Audi almost maybe sort of buying McLaren last fall. That could still very well happen, Reuters reported a short while after that earlier story broke — so perhaps Williams remains a backup in case it falls through.