Porsche and Audi announce intent to join F1 grid in 2026

Can the German manufacturers secure a spot in the pinnacle of single-seater racing?

Arthur Ferridge
19th May 2022
Porsche's Formula E car (Image credit: @PorscheFormulaE)
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess announced on May 2 that both Audi and Porsche will be joining the Formula One cohort in 2026, saying that the German group had “run out of arguments” to not join the sport.

The announcement comes after months of rumor and speculation, as both VW brands were linked with Red Bull, McLaren, Aston Martin, Williams, and Alfa Romeo.

Diess spoke on behalf of the VW board, going on to say that VW expects increased marketability, brand awareness will lead to profits which will outweigh the money invested in joining F1.

Timing was important in the decision to join the sport, as engine regulations are set to be overhauled before the 2026 season, introducing a greater reliance on hybrid energy and synthetic fuels. Audi and Porsche will look to take advantage of the new regulations to jump to the front of the pack.

"You can't catch up… 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 on board if you have a major rule change. That means you can decide now to do Formula 1 or then probably not again for 10 years.”

"That means you can decide now to do Formula 1 or then probably not again for 10 years."

Herbert Diess

Porsche and Audi are both deeply rooted in motorsport heritage, so the decision to partake in the pinnacle of motorsport is unsurprising. Audi competed in Formula 1’s inaugural season in 1950, and Porsche entered a factory team in 1957, winning the Constructors Championship after only four years of competition. Beyond Formula 1, both brands have competed in touring cars as well as the World Endurance Championship, with the Porsche 919 Hybrid often hailed as one of the fastest race cars of all time.

The role that Porsche and Audi will undertake in Formula One remains unclear. It is unlikely that either brand will enter a works team, the more likely prospect being that both brands offer facilities and consultation with a preexisting partnered team.

Porsche have been heavily linked with Red Bull, the rumour mill hinting that the German brand will look to serve as an engine provider. Porsche have also pledged to reduce their activity in other racing series in order to focus on their Formula 1 efforts. Audi have been linked with several teams, most closely with McLaren, however, both groups have strongly denied these claims.

The arrival of two German manufacturers could have sweeping effects for Formula One. VW will likely look to place German drivers into their partnered teams and will look to build their brand in Germany.

This could also increase the likelihood of a return of the German Grand Prix to the F1 calendar. The event has not been held for several years due to a lack of interest and funding from German motorsport governing bodies, but the addition of Porsche and Audi may see the return of fan favourite circuits such as Hockenheimring and the Nürburgring.

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