Is Porsche’s Exit A Sign That F1’s Too Difficult To Enter?

Originally for WTF1 in March 2023, Dre talks about Porsche’s collapsed deal with Red Bull and why new teams may be hard to come by.

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Read time: 3 mins

No doubt it’ll be disappointing for many fans to hear that after a potential Red Bull and Porsche tie-up collapsed earlier this year, it’s turned out that Porsche will not be entering the championship at all when the 2026 regulations come in. It begs a question: is it too hard to get into F1 at the moment?

Given the lay of F1’s political landscape, Porsche’s approach makes sense. It’s way cheaper to join forces with an existing team and combine your resources than start from scratch. You will save hundreds of millions of pounds in facilities, staff, power units, etc. It’s exactly why Audi has bought 75% of the artists formerly known as Sauber ahead of the new regulations. 

There was just one problem with Porsche’s plan: when they were negotiating with Red Bull Racing, Porsche wanted half of the team. For Red Bull, that meant giving up strategic control and having to sit down with Porsche on everything. Could you imagine Christian Horner, the paddock’s biggest moaner, in that scenario? Never going to happen. And in Red Bull’s defence, if you were currently the best team in the sport and dominating right now while building your own powertrains… why would you want to give up half of that?

Porsche may live to regret this decision. And as much as it’s easy to give F1 a hard time over how it conducts itself, it’s tried to make life a little easier. 

It’s probably the best time ever to try to get into the sport. We have a cost cap that limits spending. One of the most competitive fields F1 has had in recent memory (even with the blue car at the front). Sustainable fuels are being pushed alongside the car industry. They’re simplifying the power units too, getting rid of the MGU-H for 2026. And the prize money is better distributed across the field so winning immediately isn’t such a priority. Porsche may be missing a big window of opportunity.

Where F1 can be accused of getting it wrong, is the other major way of getting into the sport, and that’s starting from scratch. We’re seeing US racers Andretti Autosport try to do that right now after they themselves unsuccessfully tried to buy into Sauber – citing “control issues” as the reason the deal collapsed.

Andretti’s gone public and made it very clear via family racing legends Mario and Michael that they want into F1 and have asked for public support.  They’ve even said they’re prepared to hand out the $200m compensation fee that the teams agreed in 2020 any newcomer had to provide to make up for the prize fund being split more ways.

FIA President Muhammed Ben Sulayem was pushing for new entries, but Andretti might have lost an ally with recent news he’s stepping back from day-to-day operations. F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicalli? Not so keen.

The current teams are going to keep moving the goalposts to deny Andretti’s entry. The teams are pushing to massively bump up that compensation, to close to a billion dollars. For perspective, that would be nearly half the yearly income of the entire sport! 

Andretti is the rope in a clear tug of war between the FIA as a governing body, which wants an expanded grid, and Formula One Management, who like their US sports-style ‘franchise’ model, and team bosses who don’t want to shrink their slice of the revenue pie, or potentially have to face more competition. 

I do not doubt that Andretti would add value as a true American addition to a sport that hasn’t exactly been shy about wanting to expand there. But I hate the fact that it may have to come down to Andretti suing F1 on anti-competition grounds for them to be there. And in a sport that not long ago was struggling to even keep the 10 teams we’ve got now on the grid, and AlphaTauri teasing a sale less than a month ago… I don’t think F1 has the luxury of looking this gift horse in the mouth. 

Should F1 be pushing for more brands or an 11th team in general?

About the Author:

Dre Harrison

Somehow can now call himself a Production Coordinator at the Motorsport Network, coming off the back of being part of the awkward Johto Era at WTF1. All off a University Project that went massively out of hand. Weird huh?

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