The rumors are true: Volkswagen-owned brands want to enter the premiere form of motorsport.
For some time now, McLaren's financial woes have been very apparent. The Woking-based automaker has been doing everything possible to keep the lights on, which has been rumored to have caught the attention of the Volkswagen Group. In fact, a report - that was later denied as false - claimed in November last year that Audi had bought the struggling supercar manufacturer and its F1 team. Despite McLaren's claims, the fact that Porsche was also said to be interested in entering the premiere form of motorsport meant that the rumors would only continue.
Whatever happens to McLaren, we finally have something official to say about Volkswagen's brands' entry into F1, and it looks promising.
The Volkswagen board met on Thursday to discuss a number of matters, including an F1 entry, and its statement thereafter is exciting: "The management and supervisory boards of Volkswagen AG, Porsche AG, and Audi AG have confirmed plans for a possible entry into Formula 1 by the two brands. The Audi and Porsche brands will provide details later."
Porsche was previously rumored to be partnering with Red Bull and appears to be on course to confirm a collaboration, but things at Audi seem to have changed.
According to German publication Auto Motor und Sport, Audi may no longer pursue a deal with McLaren and now looks to be favoring a deal with Sauber. If that falls through, Williams and Aston Martin could be potential backup matchups.
Excitingly for Porsche, Red Bull Racing's F1 team principal Christian Horner says it would be "very easy" for the new Red Bull Powertrains division (taken over from Honda) to adjust its operating procedures to fit with a new partner, whichever brand that may be.
F1 superstar drivers have all welcomed the potential inclusion of new teams, particularly with support from big brands, but it's worth noting that Audi and Porsche will not join F1 if they don't like the new engine and power unit regulations for 2026 and beyond.
"This gives our company the opportunity to demonstrate the motto 'Vorsprung durch Technik' [Progress through Technology] in the pinnacle of motorsport from 2026," the VW statement continues. "We have not yet made a formal decision, as we are currently in the final evaluation phase. At the moment, the new regulations for 2026 and beyond are not yet available."
The keywords to take note of there are "opportunity" and "final evaluation phase." These imply that, while VW is not fully committed to a 2026 entry just yet, a lot of work has clearly been done and the rumors we've heard about the two brands have not been totally unfounded.
Hopefully, F1's governing body, the FIA, will provide clarity on the new regulations for the sport very soon. Both Audi and Porsche are adamant that the new engine solution must be cost-effective and needs to do away with the complex tech like the MGU-H (the hybrid power recovery unit). Fortunately, the latter has already been agreed to by F1 officials.
With a more even field on which to compete and the potential for teams to enter the sport and expand the grid, not to mention the return of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, the future of the sport has never looked more exciting.
Max Verstappen agrees: "We have ten great teams, but also to have really big brands, to see that commitment, I'm looking forward to what the future will bring to the teams," said the reigning champ. Hey Max, we'll take that Porsche 911 company car if you don't want it.