The German sports car maker shocked the world of motor sport recently by announcing that it is leaving the top Le Mans category LMP1.
However, Porsche’s entire Le Mans team is being kept together, ramping up speculation that after a move into Formula E, the next step could be F1.
“We need all of these (LMP1) people in the future,” Porsche’s research and development chief Michael Steiner told Auto Motor und Sport.
“The great team we built for LMP1 is highly motivated and represents an enormous wealth of knowledge,” he explained. “So it is a good idea to have a concrete plan for the engineers, mechanics and even for the drivers.”
Exactly what the whole LMP1 team will be doing, however, is unclear, and only adds to the rumours that the next step for Porsche is a F1 engine for the post-2020 rules.
“Like other manufacturers, we at the invitation of the FIA are participating in the discussions about the future formula one powertrain,” Steiner admitted.
“The team at Weissach is not working on an F1 engine at the moment, but it is working on a high-efficiency engine at the concept level — without a decision about what we are doing with this engine,” he said.
Last April, FIA agreed on cheaper and louder engines for 2021 onwards to replace the unfavorite 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrids introduced in 2014. The finer points will be discussed in the coming years but one of the points of agreement was to deliver more powerful engines while also making them simpler and less costly to develop and produce.
The contract did not exactly remark an independent engine supply — something which would give teams the chance to pick up an engine off the shelf if it could not reach without having to turn to one of F1’s existing manufacturers. Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko has hinted that finding one by the end of 2017 could determine F1’s future beyond 2020.
“The latest must be 2021 that an independent engine supplier comes into F1,” Marko told F1’s official website. “This is more than necessary, and the engine has to be simple, noisy and on the cost side below 10 million.
“We are talking about a much less sophisticated engine than what we have now, a simple racing engine. There are enough companies around that could supply. So we expect from the new owners together with the FIA to find a solution at the latest by the end of this season. If that doesn’t happen our stay in F1 is not secured.”