We'd love to see an Audi or Porsche in pole position.
Rumors keep swirling that one of the Volkswagen Auto Group (VAG) brands will soon be joining Formula One. A recent report on BBC Sport contains a host of insider information from unnamed sources suggesting that Volkswagen is now more tempted than ever to enter the sport. According to the report, there are two changes to the sport that VW finds attractive.
The first is the simplification of the hybrid engines and a pledge to move over to sustainable fuels. When you boil it down to the basics, it's all about cost. VW is still feeling the effects of Dieselgate, though its EV sales are still going up at a rapid rate.
This means it has some money to spend on motorsport, which has always (sometimes) been an excellent way to market a brand. Dieselgate effectively killed most of VAG's motorsport programs, and it would be nice to see the brand competing again under whatever name it chooses. Just think about the possible ties to Audi's new performance EVs, like the Audi RS e-tron GT.
But, as mentioned earlier, this will only happen under a specific set of circumstances. The rule changes for 2026 include removing the MGU-H system, the device that recovers energy from the turbocharger. While highly effective, it has two fatal flaws. It has no real-world application in cars, and it is costly to develop. VW would have to fork over millions of dollars to develop one part that existing F1 competitors have already refined.
As you can imagine, existing competitors were not thrilled about dumping a part they spent millions developing, but an agreement was made. Existing F1 teams demanded that the engines remain hybrid and that the power deficit be made up by the part that recovers energy from the rear axle. The engines will be just as powerful but less complex. It's not just a win for possible new teams but also teams working on a limited budget. We can almost hear Guenther Steiner jump up and down with joy.
A significant change like this means all F1 teams have to return to the drawing board. It's not just a case of removing the MGU-H system. In addition to this change, the new rules for 2026 include a budget cap on development. It has been suggested that new teams would be given more leeway to spend more considering how far behind they'll be. Ferrari refused these conditions, which means negotiations are ongoing.
There might be a reason why Ferrari is so hesitant. Honda announced this year that it would no longer supply engines to Red Bull. Instead, Red Bull will continue to use Honda's design but with components from its new factory. Does this mean Red Bull falls under the latest entry category, which would allow them to spend more? We all know racing teams love to bend the rules a little, but that's simply part of the game. Half the fun of implementing new rules is seeing the ingenious ways manufacturers can bend them without breaking them. According to the report, negotiations are ongoing but in a good place.
We doubt there will be a Volkswagen F1 team. The existing road-car-related teams all sell high-end vehicles, so it will be either Porsche or Audi. Porsche already has an established presence in GT racing. We think it will be Audi. Audi has 13 Le Mans victories, while Porsche has 19. That being said, Audi's wins are more recent, proving it has a better track record when it comes to single-seater cars that rely heavily on downforce.
Whatever brand it is, it seems F1 will be fascinating from 2026. In addition to everything else, the cars will be more closely matched, which means better racing and more reliance on driver talent.