Porsche quit Le Mans, enters Formula E and considers Formula 1

This latest development in the racing sphere has Automologist MAC asking, “Are the wheels coming off at Porsche?”

If you are a Porsche loyalist and fan, which I am, you may well be feeling a little dazed and confused at the present. Porsche has always been more about racing cars that you would recognise on the street, in a sort of purist way. Through the years there have, of course, been any number of specials built that clearly were no road car, but the essence of the road has nearly always been the driving force behind Porsche’s racing programme. But it would seem now that they are to drop proper racing in favour of Formula E! To many of us, this is almost heresy.

Porsche, it would seem, has followed in the footmarks of its stepbrother over at Audi and announced that it is to quit the Le Mans series—where it has just won the historic 24-hour endurance race—to concentrate on the Formula E all-electric racing series. Of course, the Formula E series, which is about as interesting as watching paint dry and sounds more like the milkman on his rounds than racing, could well benefit from the inclusion of two brands (Audi and Porsche) who have lit up the world’s racing circuits over the years. But what can it possibly do for them?

Well, being completely cynical now and remembering that their parent—Volkswagen, that is—has been the focus of the emissions cheating scandal where fines and convictions have both been handed out, the attention may well start to fall on the smaller brands in the Group, where evidence of cheating has also started to surface. So, moving from a gas-guzzling series to one that is completely electric could be seen as an attempt to fix their public image.

Or it may well be an enhanced focus on the development of electric drive trains. Whilst the teams seemingly race the same car, the manufacturers are allowed to develop some of the car themselves; this includes the gearbox, motors and inverters—in other words, the bits that make it go. So, as of the next Formula E series, Porsche will line up besides the likes of Audi and Mercedes and Renault and BMW and Jaguar, but I doubt that I will watch it.

In a separate development though, Porsche has announced that it will be actively considering a return to real racing—you know, the stuff that makes a noise—as an engine supplier to F1, if the rules are changed to allow for V6 twin turbos in the 2021 series. Porsche last participated in F1 through the disastrous liaison with the Footwork Team in 1991, and have had various business dealings with both Williams and McLaren over the years.

The new owner of Formula 1, Liberty Media, is committed to drive the cost of the sport down, supposedly to enable more teams to enter into the sport, and thus would probably welcome Porsche with open arms. On the other hand, though, Porsche has made it clear that it will only come back if the sport adopts a V6 format. As long as it makes the sound of an engine and not a milk float, I will be interested.

image: Top Gear

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