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Porsche set for F1 return?

by Staff reporter
06 Sep 2017 at 17:43hrs | Views
Porsche are seriously considering a return to Formula One from 2021 after holding talks with F1's motorsport managing director Ross Brawn, despite their last venture into the sport proving a forgettable experience, in a move that would put them one again in direct competition with Ferrari and Mercedes as well as Aston Martin.

The German manufacturer will end its sportscar prototype programme at the end of the current World Endurance Championship, having recorded a third consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours victory earlier this year.

The marque has already announced plans to move into the all-electric Formula E series with a factory-backed team from the 2019/20 season, as well as maintain its GT programme, but they are now investigating the prospect of returning to F1 for the first time since 1991. Dressed up as a TAG engine, Porsche powered McLaren to two constructors' titles in 1984 and 1985, plus the drivers' championship in 1984 under Niki Lauda, and a 1985 and 1986 with Alain Prost.

However, their return five years after Prost's success, with the Footwork Arrows team proved to be a disaster as they failed to score a single point and did not even qualify for over half of the races on the 1991 calendar. Porsche have not been seen in the sport since, but the Stuttgart-based manufacturer has confirmed that talks were held at the weekend in Monza to discuss a future return.

"F1 could be one of the right places," Lutz Meschk, Porsche's deputy chairman of the executive board, told Autosport. "As you know Formula E is very important for us now, and F1 is always a good topic to think about. And I think we are in quite good discussions regarding the new engine."

The fresh appeal for Porsche, give their hesitancy to join in the past, is the smaller twin-turbo V6 engines and lower costs that the future of F1 offers. At present, Porsche operate their prototype programme on a budget similar to that of F1, albeit without the lucrative return that the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes bring in.

"Absolutely we have to cut costs in F1, and it's a good way to reach this target," Meschke added, before confirming that "discussions are around being a supplier" and not entering a full factory team like their rivals.

Porsche already battle Ferrari in the WEC, along with Aston Martin who are already partnered with Red Bull and have been heavily linked with a move into the sport as an engine supplier. They also challenge Mercedes across various GT categories across the globe, and will join their fellow German marque in Formula E.

The options for Porsche are somewhat limited though, given that Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault all utilise their own engines and Red Bull has tied to Aston Martin – as well as using the Renault engine that took it to its four driver and constructor double-winning seasons. Red Bull does have close ties to the VW Group – which includes Porsche – but an independent team like Williams or Force India would be more likely to link up with Porsche should they look for an existing team to work with.

A deal with McLaren to renew their previously successful partnership is unlikely given that the former is now a direct competitor in the supercar market.

Source - the independent