The brain trust at Porsche is starting to wonder if its motorsports budget might be better spent racing against Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes in Formula 1 rather than winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans against broken down Toyotas.
Porsche has always had a tumultuous relationship with the single seater series: Stuttgart first pulled out in the ’60s due to costs after just two years and one race win, the ’80s saw Porsche power McLaren to two constructors championships and twenty-five race victories, and lastly, an embarrassing 1991 return in which the company’s engines failed to qualify more than half the time.
But now, if reports from Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport are to be believed, Porsche is once again evaluating a return to the pinnacle of motorsport, with Porsche’s board poised to decide in the next few weeks if the sports car and SUV manufacturer will pull out of the World Endurance Championship in favor of Formula 1.
It’s believed Porsche was one of the manufacturers in attendance during F1’s engine constructor meeting that took place on July 4th. The meeting included current manufacturers Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, and Honda, along with Aston Martin, Ilmor Engineering, and Cosworth as the FIA works to hammer out engine regulations for 2021 and beyond.
Should Porsche decide to participate its engine concept would need to be finalized by 2019 before appearing on the grid in either 2020 or 2021, ruling out a potential rekindling of the McLaren-Porsche relationship for next season.
For Porsche, there’s not much left to accomplish in the WEC after dominating the series since returning in 2014, including three overall victories at Le Mans along with consecutive drivers and constructors championships in 2015 and 2016.
With Audi quitting prototype racing last year, the series has lost much of its luster with only two top shelf manufacturers competing for overall wins. Should Porsche decide to pull out of the WEC immediately, it’s thought the company could join sister brand Audi competing in Formula E as a stop gap.
Whatever happens, Zuffenhausen will officially announce its decision before the WEC’s Mexican round in early September.