McLaren MP4/2 TAG-Porsche powered F1 car
2008 Honda F1 car
The Formula 1 grid is larger this year than it has been since 1995, when 14 teams took the green flag. But it may grow even larger over the next few years, as both Porsche and Honda are thought to be looking at a comeback to the FIA's signature series.
Porsche's re-entry to F1 has been discussed since CEO Matthias Mueller's comments at the Paris auto show, with at least one other Porsche official, R&D head Wolfgang Durheimer, reportedly acknowledging the desire within the company, as well as its ability to afford a team. Nothing is yet in stone, but it's looking likely.
But Porsche's fourth (or third-and-a-half, depending how you look at it) foray in F1 isn't as surprising as Honda's. Honda's exit from F1 was one of the more dramatic departures at the end of the 2008 season, with the team and its assets sold to Ross Brawn, the team principal, for $1. The reason for the withdrawal? Too much money spent without a measurable return.
According to SpeedTV's Will Buxton, however, rumors are circulating the Japanese Grand Prix paddock at Suzuka that Honda is eying a return to the series if turbochargers make a comeback as well in 2013. Buxton posted to his Twitter account, "Hearing a rumour that a certain Japanese engine maker wants to return if Turbos come back in 2013. Starts with H, ends in onda."
Though Porsche's return to F1 is salted with bad memories from the highly unsuccessful 1991 attempt to supply engines, the company has seen success in F1 in the 1960s as a constructor and 1980s as engine supplier to McLaren. Honda's F1 ventures follow a similar path, with some success in the 1960s followed by a long hiatus until returning as an engine supplier from 1983-1992, then eventually buying out British American Racing (BAR) in 2005.
With the current crop of new teams sitting firmly at the back of the field, the potential re-entry of two teams with solid F1 experience and deep pockets could both mix things up at the front of the grid, as well as give Ecclestone and company the excuse to get rid of the off-pace newcomers.
At the very least, we can be sure we are now in the depths of the "silly season" as Bob Varsha would put it.