F1 entry still not on Volkswagen’s agenda

2016 F1 season

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The Volkswagen Group says it does not plan to enter Formula One because of instability in the sport’s rules and ownership.

“Formula 1 is not on our agenda right now,” Volkswagen motorsport chief Wolfgang Dürheimer said in an Autocar report. “The situation is not predictable enough to make the kind of investment required.”

Volkswagen Group includes the VW, Audi, Seat, Porsche and Lamborghini brands. Audi and Porsche compete in the World Endurance Championship and VW in the World Rally Championship.

The group and has been linked to a potential F1 entry on several occasions. Last year it was rumoured to be considering a tie-up with Red Bull until it emerged the company had been rigging its emission test results, news which sent its stock price plummeting.

Durheimer pointed to a lack of stability in Formula One’s technical rules and questions over the future ownership of the sport as reasons why VW Group was not prepared to make the necessary investment to participate.

“Before you commit the kind of money needed you must see five years of rules stability,” he said. “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.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “F1 entry still not on Volkswagen’s agenda”

  1. Nothing surprising about this. I honestly think that a new manufacturer would be mad to come into F1 as it stands at the minute. If the political situation and the endless rules tweakery on a whim weren’t enough, you have to look at the miserable time Honda have had to see that the scale of the technical challenge is absolutely massive. You’re looking at setup costs potentially running into the billions for something that may not be anywhere near competitive out of the box. Some people believe there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but I can’t imagine that Honda’s efforts have been anything other than damaging to the brand.

    I’ve no doubt that VW could put together a potentially winning team, but you have to wonder why would they even bother? They’re already one of the biggest manufacturers on the planet, and a lack of involvement in F1 doesn’t seem to have harmed that in any way. In the end a volume manufacturer comes into top flight motorsports for one of two reasons – to improve the brand recognition, or simply as a vanity project because a direct competitor is involved and they want to beat them for the sake of it. Mercedes are a direct competitor, especially to the Audi brand, but then they are to BMW, and other premium brands. None of them seem inclined to bother entering F1 just to beat Mercedes. Clearly the draw simply isn’t there.

    1. @mazdachris, mind you, BMW has scaled back its motorsport activities in general recently.

      They recently rejected an attempt by the ACO to lure them to the WEC, they’ve axed their touring car program (with the customer program closed down after a change in regulations), they closed down Formula BMW a few years ago and have stated that they will only participate in the USCC if the IMSA adopts regulations that permit them to cheaply adapt their upcoming M6 GT3 category car to that championship.
      Despite the fact that you’d think it would play well with their image of producing sporty cars, BMW really isn’t that highly represented in the world of motorsport.

      1. You’re absolutely right. And I think one thing it suggests is that there’s a lot more mileage in competing in sportscars for volume manufacturers than in prototypes or formula cars. Obviously a P1 or F1 car is very far removed from the cars you can buy on the road, so while competition at those levels may enhance the brand image, the real proof of quality for the consumer products is in showing the production cars themselves beating their rivals. The Z4 GT3 has been massively successful and has surely had far more impact on car sales than anything BMW did in F1, at a far lower cost. And just look at the fanfare Ford are making about running their new GT at Le Mans this year.

        In the end I can’t help but feel that participation in F1 for major manufacturers amounts to little more than a vanity project.

  2. I think you need to be a gambler to invest in F1 at the moment. Our sport too often resembles a combination of self-invented games like “Losers deserve to win, too”, “What will Bernie say next?” or “Who is brave enough to supply Red Bull with engines?” We as fans might (still) find it exciting and funny but when billions are at stake, the fun stops.

  3. I can’t say that I blame them, it really didn’t seem like they wanted in regardless of the Emissions Scandal.

  4. Durheimer pointed to a lack of stability in Formula One’s technical rules and questions over the future ownership of the sport as reasons.

    That about says it all. There needs to be some sort of stability in the sports especially with regards to rules for a foreseeable period of time for the sport to attract new entrants. As VW are saying, at least 5 years of rules stability is reasonable. The problem with the sport is that fans are also responsible for the dire state of the sport.
    As is currently seen with the Mercedes success, fans want the rules shaken up as soon as their favourite team is not performing well. They join in the chorus of the rules needing change, tweaking, or outrightly written off or even suggest that the rules were made to favour a particular team having seen that the said team has successfully developed their car within the confines of the prevailing rules which unsurprisingly the fans were aware of before their implementation. This certainly leads to uncertainty for manufacturers who want to see rewards, success and possibly appreciation for their efforts in being better at their interpretation of the rules and their technological solutions.

    As for the ownership of the sport, it’s a no-brainer where everyone stands on that issue. Some people just need to loosen their grip on the franchise for the sport to breath.

    1. sunny stivala
      25th February 2016, 7:34

      one thing I have been convinced of is, when Bernie is gone most of formula one problems will follow him out.

  5. If the sport genuinely wanted to attract new Manufacturers, then F1 should never have shifted to these complicated PUs in the 1st place. Then they have the genius idea of restricting in season development, which hinders the lagging teams to catch up.

    If they want to attract new manufacturers they will have to change the PU formula again, and this time make sure that the change is timed in such a way that everyone starts at the same time and on equal footing with unlimited development cycles for the first three years.

    1. What you are saying certainly contrasts with what majr manufacturers are saying with regards to their attraction to the sport.

      “Before you commit the kind of money needed you must see five years of rules stability,” he said. “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.”

      The VW guy is saying they want stability and you are suggesting yet another change and you even go ahead to say F1 should never have shifted to these complicated PUs in the 1st place yet auto technology has been going in that direction for years.

      1. Tata, all some people seems to be able to do is “coo”

  6. They should strive for efficiency based regulations, with resonably open rules, so large car companies can showcase their tech and philosophy.

    V6 fits noone. Renault, Honda want I4, Ferrari, Mercedes want V8…

    Cylinder configuration should be more open. Would be fun for fans aswell, to hear more varied engines.

    Then second rule should be maximum fuel flow… And that is it.

    Finaly some sort of performance equalisation… Preferably via reduced fuel flow.

    This would allow companies to be competitive with 100M invested, yet at same time still reward those who go all out…

    Offcorse some day Mercedes will make a .8L 3 cylinder turbo engine and 400 hp. While running around 60% thermal efficiency. Then heads will explode at VW.

  7. Exciting news this since it obviously means VW are looking to join. It’s also exciting in that clear talk like this about the core issues from a major player could and should make people sit up and take notice, hopefully leading to a change in governance and ownership that will lead to the stability not only VW and others want, but will directly lead to a tighter field and better racing.

  8. 5 years of rules stability? Jeez, Formula 1 can barely go a week without coming up with new rules. There’s no hope of VW coming to F1.

  9. In what era has F1 ever had 5 years of rule stability?

    You can fairly criticize F1’s present approach to formulating its rules – I’ve made plenty of criticism myself.

    However, by saying that VW would need five years’ stability before considering an entry to F1, what Durheimer is saying is that VW will never enter the sport.

    1. @tdog, has any non spec racing series had a period where the regulators guaranteed that the regulations would remain as they were for 5 or more years?

      In the world of sportscar racing, the regulations have been modified on an annual basis in the past 5 years (the WEC itself has been constantly evolving given that it didn’t even exist 5 years ago), with the ACO planning further major changes to the regulations in 2017. The ACO relies on the power to change the regulations each year as a way of ostensibly maintaining the Balance of Performance, ranging from changes to air restrictor settings and fuel tank sizes through to wholesale changes to the chassis regulations and effective caps on power outputs, yet that constant change doesn’t seem to phase VW.

      Similarly, VW is also happy to compete in Formula E, a series that explicitly sells itself on the fact that the regulations are constantly being rewritten as the series evolves and adapts and is intended to develop in unpredictable ways (just look at the idea of throwing in autonomous cars as a support race to the main event, which never formed part of the original concept).

      As you say, it feels more like VW effectively setting out conditions that they know will not be accepted and are therefore effectively saying they will not compete in the sport.

  10. Who can blame them? I think they speak for other manufacturers too. Hell I won’t even pay to watch it on tv or live in person since I disagree with the way the sport is and the direction the sport is taking. I have zero confidence in the leadership too.

  11. You forgot two iconic names of the automotive industry that are in VAG: Bugatti and Bentley.

    And the big question is with what brand VAG will enter F1 When they’ll do?

    1. Probably, they cannot decide… So they wont enter.

  12. “Before you commit the kind of money needed you must see five years of rules stability,”

    Then VW will never enter the sport. I can’t think of a single period in the last 25 years that had a period with 5 years of rule stability. You could argue that 1998-2005 was probably the only period that got close to that, but even then there were some pretty significant rule changes over that period.

  13. They are consistently refusing to get involved in F1 for one reason or another. The feeling I get is that they want to enter only if they think they have a chance to win, which is only natural. But if you always wait for the perfect time to enter then you will always be behind the curve.

    The best time to get involved would have been when this hybrid era started because the technology was very road relevant and everyone was on the same footing. Considering that the engine formula might stay stable for another 4-5 years, next year might be the next best opportunity for them to get involved. Considering Red Bull is also desperate for a works engine deal they really should consider F1 now.

    I do think F1 has a global presence and the current political uncertainty should not be a deterrent because things do tend to sort themselves out.

    1. I agree. I think consistent rules are unlikely to benefit a new team anyway, sure you can argue that it shows it’s a safe investment, however you will never do well if the other teams have spent 5 years honing and learning their designs and you are staring from scratch.

      Lastly, it doesn’t even make sense, the only way has 5 years of consistent rules is if they are close to a change. Specifically on the engines, the best time to enter is now, before Renault and Honda get their act together.

  14. Lets be honest, the VW Group is pretty well represented in WEC, WRC, Blancpain, GT3 or WTCC as it is …

    … even with the emissions nonsense there’s no need for them to be in F1.

  15. I’m not one of the people who thought that VAG was on the cusp of entering F1 as the emissions scandal broke. Afterall, it has done nothing but deny deny deny despite the consistent rumours to the contrary.

    There is a well known truism in F1 along the lines of – that which is publicly denied often ends up being true.

    Of course, promoting an Ex-F1 team principle to head up one of the two brands with which VAG is likely to enter the sport under (Lamborghini or Porsche) was never going to help the rumour mill. So to squash those persistent rumours they come out and publicly state that there would need to be 5 years of stability in the rules before they could consider it. As those who have previously commented have made clear, unlikely to happen! 5 years of rule stability on Modern F1 is unheard of……isn’t it?

    BUT… lets think about how VAG are likely to enter the sport. It’s unlikely to be as a full blown works team but as an Engine (PU) supplier! The current format of engines were introduced in 2014 and the manufacturers have just agreed to keep the current PU format until 2020 on the understanding that the cost of supply be reduced and an alternative “budget” engine not be introduced. Development to be unrestricted……..2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019…… Is this not SIX years of rule stability??

    Messing around with the Aero / Sporting regs has no effect on a PU supplier.

    Now I’m not really expecting VAG to enter the sport any time soon, I’m just saying…..

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