The VW Group will not enter Formula 1 while the ownership of the sport and the technical regulations remain in turmoil, the group’s motorsport boss, Wolfgang Dürheimer, has told Autocar.
“Formula 1 is not on our agenda right now,” said Dürheimer. “The situation is not predictable enough to make the kind of investment required. On the regulations front, there are a lot of rumours around the engine side and the supporting technology side. Before you commit the kind of money needed you must see five years of rules stability – there can’t be the possibility of rules changes, of more or less engine cylinders coming in, or the hybrid system changing away from technology you are developing on road cars. On the ownership side, there are also big questions the sport must answer. If you are a big business making a big investment you expect to have some influence on the set-up, with an assurance the present ownership will last. In F1, it seems the owners will not be there forever and that creates some instability.”
Durheimer says that racing in the World Endurance Championship costs more than running an F1 team for Audi and Porsche. “The technology is greater than that in F1 and the levels of investment are therefore greater.”
The timing of these remarks is most interesting. It may just be a fluke, but it might also be a deliberate ploy to try to get the people in F1 to focus on what is important and to stop messing about and create some stable rules. If that happened, VW might enter the game. One can imagine that Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne would be delighted to see these comments, but then he is very keen to see VW come into F1 with as many brands as they want to use. The more manufacturers the merrier is his rallying cry, which is logical when one looks at the political situation in F1; the more manufacturers there are the less power the Formula One group will have in the post-2020 negotiations. And don’t forget, Aston Martin is still out there somewhere…