The Volkswagen CEO has said the decision for Audi and Porsche to join Formula 1 was “not unanimous” among the car manufacturer’s board.
On Monday, VW CEO Herbert Diess confirmed the speculated rumours that both Audi and Porsche will be entering the F1 grid in 2026 and that their plans were already pretty advanced.
According to Reuters, Porsche will be looking to team-up with Red Bull while Audi have tabled a 500 million euros (£418million) for McLaren, allowing them to enter the sport as a constructor and not just an engine manufacturer.
The introduction of the German auto giant to the sport has divided opinion and it seems to have done so even inside the VW boardroom.
Diess, speaking to residents of Wolfsburg where the company is based, said the discussion on the board was “not unanimous.”
“We certainly have other priorities strategically,” the 63-year-old said to the changing motor-industry which is focusing more towards electric vehicles.
“It’s not necessarily motorsport, but our cars have to be technically up to date, we have to be able to drive autonomously, we need the software capabilities, we need batteries for our cars. We have enough to do and we don’t really need to do Formula 1.
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“But our premium brands say that’s the most important lever to increase the brand value and to be able to take a little bit more for the cars in terms of pricing. And also to demonstrate to the competition that you have superior technology, in the case of Audi.
“That’s why the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board have all voted in favour of this. Audi still has to decide in which constellation and with which team. But both have started to develop engines.”
On the reasons why Porsche would join, Diess said it has to be the sportiest car brand in the world so “has to do motorsport.”
“You come to the conclusion: if Porsche does motorsport, the most efficient thing is to do Formula 1. You almost have to put a check mark on that,” he said.
While with Audi, the Austrian said it was about the potential of the brand.
“Audi is a much weaker brand than Porsche,” he admitted. “It can’t demand such a high price premium. Audi actually has the better case for Formula 1 because it has much greater potential for the brand.
“They are moving into the higher segments, into competition with Daimler, and then Audi will also have a case where they say that makes sense. Audi also transfers four or five billion a year to Wolfsburg, and it will also transfer more with Formula 1 than without.
“Then you simply run out of arguments. You can say, ‘But I don’t believe in Formula 1,’ but there are good arguments that say Formula 1 will grow, even in the future. Why should you restrict them, if they then deliver more money?”
One potential issue with Red Bull-Porsche deal
Porsche will find their way into F1 eventually, probably through a Red Bull relationship. But when that happens, there may be an issue for both sides.