About 10 days ago an F1 Power Unit Working Group met to discuss the future of power units. Main topics of discussion according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff were weight, simplicity, sound, cost and availability. The price is an important factor for smaller teams. The usual gang were present, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Renault and Honda. Aston Martin was there, as were Lamborghini, Ilmor and Cosworth. Nothing surprising there. However making a guest appearance was Porsche. This is the first time the German manufacturer have attended.
Naturally, this gets the rumour mill spinning. As a PR machine they have done well in the World Endurance Championship, and their back to back successes have revived the brand’s racing heritage. However, some commenters have suggested that a fourth world title lacks further impact. It is no secret that their sports program is being evaluated. One would assume to keep it fresh and to seek additional kudos from other formulas.
Would it be a shock if the Stuttgart firm started a career in F1, even as an engine supplier?
The Mercedes boss also stated that discussions were “all very positive” and there was “pretty much” alignment in the way the delegates all felt the future of F1 power units should be. He went on to say the need to “make sure the mistakes that we have done go away” Reliability comes into my mind when I read that. I could be wrong.
Next year’s FIA regulations see the number of engines per driver drop to three for the season and the number of races likely to increase and reliability is likely to become a key factor in both constructors and drivers future championships. It is possible that this is going to become a big deal when the drivers are keeping an eye on what seats are becoming available over single lap speed. Slowly and surely perhaps wins the championship. Perhaps the season will define what the individual races never show.
Of course, Porsche is well experienced in long running, high output, energy recovery, turbos and hybrid engines. It actually makes a lot of sense. After many years out of the sport, Formula 1 may have just come back into Porsche’s sweet spot, much of the cost of development has been done.
All this, of course, is the talk of the future. It would be foolish (perhaps) to think that they could come in sooner, and many of the top teams are under contract anyway, that is of course unless people like Honda fall foul of performance clauses in such contracts. Big question is, will it be affordable, and if it was, would it be as good as a works team? Could they buy Force India? Would they want to?
The team despite the uncertain financial future of its owner have recently registered a number of companies in the UK. GP2 MOTORSPORT LIMITED (10662830) is a company registered March 2017 which could indicate a structure that supports lower formulas and junior driver lineups which is an odd thing to do at the moment…