All good things are three: twice in the last few years the Volkswagen Group has seriously considered entering Formula 1, but twice the decision finally fell against it. Now Wolfsburg has another test order on formula 1 and the chances that it could work in the third run are better than ever.
The group is still a long way from a binding decision. A story by the BBC, quoting Fritz Enzinger with the words that a Formula One entry for Volkswagen under certain conditions could be “of great interest”.
Porsche Motorsport does not comment on the “BBC” story at the request of “Motorsport-Total.com”. But Enzinger is not just anyone. At the beginning of 2018, the Austrian took over the management of the Group Motorsport division in Wolfsburg by Wolfgang Durheimer and in this function is responsible for the motor sports orientation and coordination of all group brands.
Before that the 64-year-old was at BMW until the end of 2011, among other things as logistics manager of the Formula One project. In Porsche, he then built up that success organization, the three total wins at the 24-hour Le Mans and eight long-distance championships.
The framework conditions are good
Since January 2019, Enzinger has been driving twice as Porsche Motorsport Manager with around 500 employees and as responsible for the motor sports strategy of the entire Volkswagen Group. In the management of the Volkswagen Group he is said to be a vocal supporter of a Formula One project.
Basically, all developments in motor sports and racing series are constantly monitored and evaluated,”he says to the”BBC”. This was particularly true “with regard to the new engine and the rules for traction in formula 1 from 2025. Should sustainability aspects play a role in this, for example the introduction of E-Fuels, It would then be of great interest.”
The fact that the issue of Formula 1 for the Volkswagen Group is at least not ad acta has long been rumored in industry circles. The framework conditions are good. The diesel scandal is not finished, but at least the worst waves have broken by now, and the new head of formula 1 is an ex-VW man with Stefano Domenicali.
VW with test assignment on formula 1
And not just any one: Domenicali was the man who developed a study with 2015 to test, whether a Formula One entry for Audi makes sense. Shortly afterwards, as he told 2019 in an interview with “Motorsport-Total.com”, Enzinger set out on this very study, when the group was about to send Porsche into formula 1.
New dynamics came to light when Group Chief Herbert Diess posted on LinkedIn last August, that “a formula 1 with synthetic fuels is more exciting, more fun, is a better motor sport experience and brings more technical competition than a formula E, “Motorsport-Total.com” reports that there is currently a test order on Formula 1 within the group, which is supported by the highest level. But it is also clear: Volkswagen will only come if the framework conditions are so designed, t hat a commitment to reasonable money has a realistic chance of success and is also ecologically sustainable.
When from 2017 a formula-1 start of Porsche has been tested and 40 employees (initially under strict secrecy) have developed a formula-1 suitable six cylinder, Volkswagen even sat at the table during the negotiations on the new engine format in the royal class.
New engine becomes the next VW chance
In February 2019 the internal so-called “high efficiency engine” ran for the first time on the test stand, and all the angles seemed set for an entrance into the royal class. Back then on board: Andreas Seidl, today’s team leader of McLaren- the man who has already worked with Enzinger on the successful Porsche LMP1 program.
Why it did not finally come to the Porsche start, there are still different presentations about it today. On the VW side, it is said, among other things, that the existing manufacturers were not prepared to change the engine format to such an extent that a new entrant would have had a realistic chance of success.
On the Formula One page, it leaks that Volkswagen, on the one hand, wanted to push a completely new engine regulation, On the other hand, he was not prepared to make a commitment. Only then would it have been possible to have embarked on an expensive modification of the engine format by the season 2021.
But now there is a new chance for Volkswagen and Formula 1, because behind the scenes are just the directions for the new engine from 2025. The Grazer company AVL is researching high-speed tours in the field of E-Fuels, a topic that could play a major role in the group strategy of Volkswagen in the coming years.
Possible VW brand still open
Should Formula 1 under Ex-VW-Man Domenicali set the right course, The chances of getting in are as good as never before. What kind of brand could be sent into the race in such a case, however, is unclear. After all, the group comprises eight car brands that are theoretically eligible (Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen).
In practice, three of them come into the narrower choice. Audi, as a volume producer, would be logical and could revive the legendary slogan “Advance through Technology” in a sustainable formula 1. For Porsche, on the other hand, the emotional component speaks with the resounding name and influence of the Porsche family within the group.
In theory, the sports car manufacturer Lamborghini could also play a role in such considerations. Lamborghini is a 100-percent Audi subsidiary and has been led from 2016 to 2020 by today’s Formula One chief Domenicali as CEO. And Audi’s CEO is also a confessional Formula One fan with Markus Duesman.
Duesman started his career in the Daimler Group and was there among other things the development director of Formula One Engine Department in Brixworth (by the way as the predecessor of today’s Daimler Group leader Ola Kaleninius). He switched to BMW and was responsible for the drive train of the BMW-Sauber team, which at that time was considered the strongest engine of Formula 1.
At that point BMW crossed the paths of Duesman (head of the engine department), Enzinger (head of logistics) and Seidl (head of operations of the race and test team). Duesman is considered today –also a hot candidate for the succession of Volkswagen Group leader Herbert Diess.
Ball is based on formula 1
These are good prerequisites for a possible formula-1 commitment of the Volkswagen Group at the political level. However, for a clear commitment from Wolfsburg to the royal class, some basic conditions must be created. The ball is now in the hands of the decision-makers in Formula 1.
Right-holder Liberty Media with Formula One boss Domenicali will certainly have a great interest in winning a fourth OEM for the Grand Prix sport after the Honda exit.
First, because this minimizes the risk of being in front of a sharpie shop, Another piece should withdraw. Secondly, because each manufacturer also brings a whole series of partners and sponsors for the B2B level.
Also from the FIA, no stumbling blocks are to be expected. For Volkswagen, issues such as sustainability (downsizing to a four-cylinder, hybrid, e-turbo, e-fuel) are of fundamental importance, as is budget coverage in the area of traction. These are objectives which are in line with those of FIA President Jean Todt and which could be of interest not only to Volkswagen but also to other manufacturers.
Therefore, the manufacturers currently engaged could become Alpine (Renault), Ferrari (FIAT) and Mercedes (Daimler). If they are ready to embark on a major reform with regard to the new formula-1 engine from 2025, as was actually planned for 2021, then from the Volkswagen point of view a lot is conceivable, one hears.
2016 came in the middle of the diesel scandal, Three years later, the lack of reform readiness of the existing players in formula 1.2025 is the third realistic chance in ten years. But there are still many steps to be taken.
The first would be for Volkswagen to sit at the table when talking about the new engine format. Whether this will happen could be seen in the coming weeks.