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 still 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 both its Audi and Porsche brands to F1 as power unit suppliers, though any move would depend on how the sport's new power unit regulations due to be introduced in 2026 (originally 2025) shape up.
The changes brought about by the new regulations will be on the same level as when the current V-6 hybrid era was introduced in 2014. F1 organizers are particularly focused on reducing costs and carbon emissions while ensuring the power units are still powerful and emotive.
Auto Motor und Sport reported on Friday that F1 organizers and the current power unit suppliers plan to decide on the 2026 regulations later this year and that certain concessions sought by VW Group will likely be met. Those concessions are said to be the introduction of a simpler power unit that ditches the current turbocharger energy recovery system known as the MGU-H, and runs on 100% renewable fuel. The World Endurance Championship is already going to make the switch to a renewable fuel in 2022.
Any new power unit suppliers may also receive concessions on budget caps for the first few seasons.
You might be wondering why VW Group would enter both Audi and Porsche as power unit suppliers. According to Auto Motor und Sport, the cost for each brand would be roughly half that of rivals since the costs could be shared, but the benefits received by competing in F1 would be the same as those rivals.
According to previous reports, VW Group has had exploratory talks with Red Bull Racing, McLaren and Williams about potential power unit deals. McLaren and Williams currently use Mercedes-Benz AMG power units while Red Bull is using a Honda power unit but will need a new supplier once the 2026 rules are introduced. Red Bull's team principal, Christian Horner, has also said in the past that the team would be open to a partnership with an automaker, meaning Red Bull may even become a semi-factory team in the future.
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 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 CEO, Stefano Domenicali, was previously head of VW Group's Lamborghini brand, and before that head of Ferrari's F1 team.