Porsche has taken overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans some 16 times, including a winning streak with the 936, 956 and 962C
that lasted from 1981 through 1987. The last time the Stuttgart automaker stood atop the podium was in 1998, and since 2007 only Audi and Peugeot have sponsored factory-backed prototype teams.
That changes in 2014, when Porsche returns to Le Mans
with an entirely new LPM1 racer. In preparation for this, Porsche appears to be shopping for support staff in the Formula One paddock, causing Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport
to question what it may really mean.
In recent months, Porsche
has hired some half-dozen employees with Formula One racing experience, including former BMW F1 head of logistics Fritz Enzinger. Enzinger will be tasked with heading Porsche’s Le Mans effort, so it’s clear that he’s surrounding himself with the best personnel available.
It’s also built up its Weissach facility to fully support a factory racing effort, equipping it with a state of the art wind tunnel. Porsche’s drivers are also booking time in McLaren’s Formula One simulators, leading some to suspect that its renewed Le Mans effort is only a stepping stone to Formula One.
The upcoming change to turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6 engines and hybrid drivetrains in Formula One could make the sport more appealing to Porsche, especially if the proposed cost caps are enacted. That said, Formula One is still the highest form of motorsport, meaning it will perpetually have the highest costs associated with it.
We suppose anything is possible, but we seriously doubt that the Volkswagen Group would sign off on Porsche’s F1 involvement, especially in light of the contracting global economy. For now, we’re just glad to see that Porsche will be back at the Circuit de la Sarthe.