Volkswagen boss warns window to enter Formula 1 is closing

Audi and Porsche have been confirmed to be planning to join Formula 1 in 2026 at the end of the current engine freeze.

Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess has affirmed that 2026 is the ideal time for Porsche and Audi to enter Formula 1 as a result of the rule changes coming into effect.

The original consensus was that the two subsidiaries of Volkswagen would join forces to make powertrains for both McLaren and Red Bull, but the picture has become clearer in recent weeks.

Porsche are aiming to team up with Red Bull to design their power units and gearboxes in 2026 after the engine freeze is lifted, while Audi have an interest in buying another team on the grid.

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Not quite so clear yet though is which team Audi are in talks with. It is thought that their attempts to take over from McLaren are now dead in the water, leaving Sauber and Aston Martin as the perceived candidates for any potential bid.

Lawrence Stroll could well be willing to offload the team if his five-year championship plan with the Silverstone squad does not come to fruition, while the takeover could be financially beneficial for the Sauber team that have struggled in recent years.

Development of cars and engines is more complex than ever in Formula 1 due to the regulatory stringency in the Turbo Hybrid era, so starting behind results in less prize money, and a higher expenditure of finances and resources to climb to the top.

This becomes especially difficult as the cost cap continues to plummet, so Diess’ plan is to put those resources into a clean slate year for the sport, which happens to arrive in the form of a new engine philosophy in 2026.

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“You need five or 10 years to be among the front runners. In other words, you can only get onboard if you have a major rule change. That’s coming now, and it will also come in the direction of 2026, when the engines will be electrified to a much greater extent, including with synthetic fuels,” he strategised.

“That means you need a new engine development and you need three or four years to develop a new engine.

“That means you can decide now to do Formula 1 – or then probably not again for 10 years. And our two premium brands think that’s the right thing to do, and are prioritising it.”

Volkswagen’s German rivals Mercedes have dominated the Constructors’ Championship for the last eight years since the turn of the hybrid era, with Sir Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg taking a combined seven drivers’ titles in that time.