Volkswagen is poised to announce Audi and Porsche’s entry into Formula 1, most likely tieing up with existing teams, but Emerson Fittipaldi believes the latter marque should enter the top flight with its own team.
While much was made of last week’s ‘announcement’ nothing really came of it as the song remains the same: Volkswagen, who owns Audi and Porsche, are contemplating entering both brands into F1 as the sport becomes more relevant to the German auto giant.
Word from the paddock is that Porsche and Red Bull are on the verge of signing something, while Audi are romancing McLaren with Zak Brown’s men playing hard to get for now. Hence no announcement last week as expected.
Which prompts the question: Why don’t they enter as bonafide teams independent teams: Audi and Porsche?
Double F1 world Champion, Fittipaldi told VegasInsider has no doubts that Porsche have the pedigree but is not sure why they are not going it alone: “I don’t know, it’s difficult to answer. They don’t need to get a team but they have the potential to start their own from zero.
“Theoretically, they have the financial resources and technology to start a brand new team if they want. That’s very good news. F1 is having so much good news, it’s incredible, this is the best piece of news this year.
“Because when you a factory or a group like Volkswagen get into F1, it would be fantastic news. Because I am sure they will bring big challenges with them.
Fittipaldi: They will commit very seriously to being successful.
They invest a lot of money, they’ll need new people. I think this is very good news for F1, for the public, and for the racing fans. I hope they come as soon as possible, Formula 1 needs more competitive teams,” added Fittipaldi.
The Brazilian legend echoes what everyone, bar the greed of the teams and apparently F1 chief Stefano Domenicali, that the sport at the highest level can do with an extra team or two, and if any manufacturer has the capability to tackle the enormous challenges it is Porsche and Audi.
Both brands have huge experience with hybrid technology through their benchmark-setting sportscar programmes for decades, racing pumps in their veins and F1 awaits their arrival, finally!
However, coming in as branding partners with existing teams (Alfa Romeo springs to mind, there is nothing Alfa or Romeo about the Swiss team – run by a Frenchman with Ferrari engines – than the stickers) then it could be argued that Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen may as well stay away.
And the ‘marketing value’ of partnering with an existing team is questionable. Take Williams for example, they won so many titles but who really remembers if it was Williams-Honda, Williams-Renault, Williams-Ford? Exactly! Only the anoraks.
The all-conquering TAG engines that powered McLaren to two F1 titles were built almost anonymously by Porsche
Or better still the great German manufacturer can look at their own history when the McLarens were powered by TAG badged engines, built by Porsche at a substantial cost covered by Mansour Ojjeh.
Word at the time is that Porsche did not want to be associated with publicity regarding the engine, it was purely subcontracted to supply the kit without a ‘badge’ and as a result, the brand stamped boldly on the engine was: TAG Turbo, Techniques D’Avante, Ojjeh’s company with no mention of Porsche not even in the small print.
At the time as a fan, and even journos, you would have been hard-pressed to associate the two from the outset, only becoming more and more apparent as the TAG powered McLarens ruled the roost.
From 1984 to the end of 1987, the engine was a rocket, winning two F1 world titles in 1984 with Niki Lauda and in 1985 with Alain Prost. They were second in the following two years.
Rightfully Porsche got and gets little credit for the feats of the time, their reluctance to be associated with the project was one that has haunted them since, but will probably never admit it.
One would think they would learn from the abovementioned lessons and go it alone as Fittipaldi suggests.