Toto Wolff believes the addition of Audi and Porsche to the list of manufacturers in Formula 1 will make success harder for others to achieve.
Audi’s long-awaited arrival has now been confirmed and they will be a power unit supplier from 2026, when they are also expected to become a manufacturer by striking a deal with Sauber.
Alfa Romeo, with whom Sauber is currently a partner, retire from F1 at the end of 2023clearing the way for Audi to move in with the Swiss-based operation.
Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, was particularly lukewarm about permanently welcoming some new corporate names into the paddock – in particular Andretti Global, wondering what value they would bring to Formula 1.
But he was rather more enthusiastic about the idea of Audi and Porsche.
“It’s great,” the Austrian told Motorsport.com of Audi’s entry. “I think when you see who has joined F1 in terms of car manufacturers and the best brands in their industry outside of motoring, it shows the strength of the sport.
“And it’s great for the sport, great for us to have some of the best car companies in the world among the competitors.
“F1 is the toughest sporting competition for any car manufacturer in the world. It has been, and it’s going to get tougher with these guys coming in.
Wolff also touched on the different doors through which Audi and Porsche, the Volkswagen Group brand, are expected to join the ranks of Formula 1, indicating that these are different types of projects.
“I think you’re just hedging your bets because one is your fully integrated works team in Switzerland, and the other is joining one of the best F1 teams in the world,” Wolff said. “It’s a two-track strategy that makes sense to me.”
Why are Audi and Porsche both joining Formula 1 in 2026?
Both are part of the Volkswagen Group, so why are they joining F1 at the same time?
Clearly, the recently finalized powertrain regulations for 2026 were the catalyst for this decision, but Audi Chairman Markus Duesmann has explained why it’s not one brand over another. .
“You can imagine there was a huge discussion,” Duesmann said. “But we decided, as our two brands have a lot of fans and both have their own special character, to keep it completely separate and do two operations.
“We had several reasons [for that]. We will have different teams and the powertrain must be designed specifically for the chassis. That’s why we decided to split it, because we will have completely different chassis and completely different powertrains.
Do Audi and Porsche add more value to F1 than Andretti Global?
From the perspective of the teams, Liberty Media and the FIA, then the answer is clearly yes. As Wolff said, these are some of the biggest brands in their industry.
But what about the fans? Wouldn’t they like to see an 11th team arrive, start from scratch and win?
Haas, as recently as 2016, showed that it was possible, and Andretti Global already has a strong footing with a presence in several other major motorsport series.
It looks increasingly likely that Michael Andretti’s bid to become an F1 constructor will fail – which is a shame, as there seemed every chance he could make it work and build on the success the sport in his native United States.
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