A Volkswagen Group brand in Formula One? The last we'd heard on the topic, VW Group's Porsche brand was close to making a return to F1 as a power unit supplier and was working on a power unit designed to the current regulations as recently as 2017.
Fast forward to today and there are claims VW Group is once again seriously considering committing one of its brands to F1, though any move would depend on how the sport's new regulations due to be introduced in 2025 would deal with sustainability, Fritz Enzinger, vice president of motorsport at Porsche, told the BBC in an interview published Wednesday.
"Porsche and Volkswagen [Group] are observing the constantly changing regulations in all relevant racing series around the world,” he said. “This is also the case with regard to the emerging new engine and drivetrain regulation for Formula One from 2025."
The new power unit rules to be introduced in 2025 are on the same level as when the current V-6 hybrid era was introduced in 2014. The organizers are particularly focused on reducing costs and carbon emissions while ensuring the power units are still powerful and emotive.
One measure that is particularly interesting for Porsche is the introduction of fully sustainable fuels. The automaker has already invested in a pilot plant that can develop a synthetic fuel using carbon capture technology.
"It would be of great interest if aspects of sustainability, for instance, the implementation of e-fuels, play a role in this,” Enzinger said. “Should these aspects be confirmed, we will evaluate them in detail within the VW Group and discuss further steps."
According to the BBC's sources, Porsche has been involved in the discussions for F1's 2025 power unit rules. Some of the sources also said VW Group could use either Audi or Porsche for an F1 program should it happen.
Don't expect a full factory team on the level of Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz AMG, though. According to the BBC's sources, VW Group has had exploratory talks with Red Bull Racing, McLaren and Williams. McLaren and Williams currently use Mercedes power units while Red Bull is using a Honda power unit but will need a new supplier once the 2025 rules are introduced. Red Bull's team principal, Christian Horner, has said in the past that the team would be open to a partnership with an automaker. Previously it's had title sponsorship deals with Infiniti and Aston Martin.
But McLaren and Williams are not to be excluded. Williams' new CEO, Jost Capito, was previously head of the Volkswagen brand's R performance and motorsport division, and he also headed VW's successful World Rally Championship team which won the three-straight titles last decade. Capito also worked at Porsche between 1989 and 1996.
Meanwhile, McLaren's team principal, Andreas Seidl, was previously head of Porsche's motorsport division and ran the automaker's successful LMP1 program in the World Endurance Championship.
We should also point out that F1's new CEO, Stefano Domenicali, was previously head of VW Group's Lamborghini brand, and before that head of Ferrari's F1 team.