Audi, alongside Porsche, will be fielding cars on the F1 grid by 2026, or so the reports say. But who really wants to see that?
We know that the majority of readers on Carlist.my don’t really give two figs about what happens in Formula 1, but we’ll take a stab at assuming you’ll recognise the names Lamborghini, Audi, and Porsche.
It was announced earlier this month that the Volkswagen Group, via CEO Herbert Diess, parent company of all three of those automakers, was keen on entering the open-wheel motor racing series for the 2026 season with both Audi and Porsche presumably functioning as separate, though complementary, teams.
This would act much like Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Alphatauri (or Scuderia Ferrari with Alfa Romeo Racing) with the former being the primary squad where much of the latest and greatest design and engineering budget is being invested. The latter, probably Audi, will serve as a sort of backup and feeder team.
There's also plenty of rumours going around that suggest that Porsche and Audi's F1 entry will follow an acquisition or partnership with a currently competing team with reports of talks with McLaren, Williams and even Red Bull.
Everyone Loves A Comeback Story
While Porsche’s return to Formula 1 would be quite a sight to see, it would be a shame for Lamborghini to be sidelined given its equally storied history with the sport and fast cars in general.
Though Audi does have a solid motorsport heritage, their F1 log is confined to a pre-war period in the 1930s when they were still known as Auto Union and before the era’s Grand Prix racing evolved into Formula 1. After the Second World War, VW absorbed Auto Union and quashed any remaining intent to re-enter road racing in favour of turning a profit, building passenger vehicles.
Despite it being an odd fit, VW seems intent on shoehorning Audi into the F1 spotlight when Lamborghini is clearly the brand with an equally rich motorsport pedigree and, more importantly, established recognition for performance vehicles. They sell fast, emotional cars with powerful engines and use plenty of go-fast tech. Audi, not so much.
And since Formula 1 has now become more about spectacle, action, and entertainment under new management Liberty Media, a loud and flamboyant Lambo team would be a much bigger crowd draw compared to the preppy, rule-abiding image Audi projects.
The Brands & Their History In F1
Porsche’s place in F1 is hard to dispute. The Zuffenhausen manufacturer had entered the sport as a factory team in 1961 but pulled out in1962 due to budgetary constraints.
In the early 1980s, they would return as an engine supplier to McLaren (though the V6 turbos were branded TAG at first), helping the team win the 1984 and 1985 constructors championship with Niki Lauda and Alain Prost at the wheel.
After pulling out for a few seasons subsequently, they returned in 1991 as an engine supplier. However, this effort would end prematurely as their naturally aspirated V12 motor proved to be one of the weakest on the grid.
Should they make a comeback yet again as a factory team for the 2026 season, Porsche’s F1 hiatus will have been 35 years.
Lastly, Lamborghini. The sudden ban by the FIA on turbocharged cars for the 1989 season opened the door for the Sant’Agata manufacturer to step in with their own V12 engines.
However, due to it being adapted from their road-going motors, its performance wasn’t exactly leaving the competitors in their dust. Reliability was a persistent issue as well, causing Lamborghini to drop their F1 engine program after the 1993 season.
They have never fielded an F1 car on the grid before, at least under their own name, though they have gotten their feet wet with the idea during their ownership under Chrysler in the early 1990s, even going as far as to design a full chassis following a semi-successful foray into supplying engines.
The race-ready car, the Lambo 291, raced in the 1991 season under the Modena team to disappointing results.
Why Lamborghini Is Done With F1 (Probably)
Ironically, it might be the top brass at Lamborghini itself that is the most resistant to the idea of embarking upon an F1 campaign. In spite of what their VW overlords might want, there could still be an abundant amount of competitive scorn between them and Ferrari.
The Maranello squad appears to be one of two dominant forces in the ongoing 2022 season, and there’s little chance that any F1 car from the VW Group (either branded Lamborghini, Porsche, or Audi) will be a championship contender in its first outings.
This would mean many losses against the Prancing Horse, which could have a negative trickle effect on the perception of Lamborghini’s road cars.
It could take multiple seasons of struggling in the midfield before their power unit and chassis are refined enough and the team works in complete cohesion. Also, tighter regulations on team budgets mean VW can’t just write them a blank cheque to secure some podium finishes.
The simpler truth is that Lamborghini entering F1 presents a bigger risk than it does the potential reward to the brand, and any deviation from their considerably high repute and profitable business formula as an exclusive supercar maker isn’t something VW is willing to gamble on either.
Audi and Porsche, on the other hand, have more to gain from F1. Both automakers have an interest in the development of advanced electrified power units and hybrid technology while Porsche has also invested heavily in carbon-neutral synthetic fuels as a direct replacement for petrol, a direction that F1’s regulators are also in alignment with.
Though Audi’s RS sub-brand (previously quattro GmbH but now called Audi Sport) has been rather dormant recently, any success or failure in F1 can only bolster their credibility as a prestigious, performance-oriented manufacturer as they valiantly compete in the pinnacle of motorsport. You need only look to the torrent of added brand cachet and recognition enjoyed by the AMG label toward Mercedes-Benz’s road cars.