Porsche could be about to embark on an entry to Formula E as its next motorsport mission, as it considers the future of its LMP1 programme in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Speculation arose ahead of last month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans that Porsche was considering its future in the category given a lack of competitiveness with its current car, the Porsche 919 Hybrid, and inability to get an all-new car ready for the 2018 season.
Reports in the German media have suggested that Porsche will make a firm decision on its LMP1 future over the summer as it decides on its future motorsport direction, meaning the marque could quit WEC one year before its contract is up at the end of 2018.
A departure by Porsche would follow Audi’s exit ahead of its contract expiring last year, with the sister brand opting to turn its attention to Formula E, where it will enjoy factory involvement from season four.
While Porsche has officially stressed that it remains committed to WEC and its future, having played a part in designing the sport’s post-2020 regulations, speculation remains rife that other series may take its interest.
Formula E is a series high on Porsche’s radar, with a number of the car maker’s top motorsport officials attending the recent races in Monaco and, with a more significant presence, in Berlin after being invited by the all-electric series.
When asked by Current E at the 24 Hours of Le Mans about the visit, Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl remained defensive.
“We only went there to experience it once live because as we always do, we look into all of the different categories that are around. Formula E is an interesting new series,” Seidl said. “It’s only in its third year. Still I think the degrees of freedom and development as they are right now, it’s still not interesting enough. But I think it’s something we keep following and we have to see how it develops in the future.”
Seidl remained coy when asked what would need to change to make Formula E interesting to Porsche: “Honestly, our focus now is on our LMP1 project. We are not in the position at the moment to really judge it in detail. We have enough to do here. There’s nothing to comment on at the moment. We watch it like we do with many other series, but there’s nothing to comment on at the moment.”
A report from Auto Motor und Sport ahead of this weekend’s New York ePrix claims that Porsche will take a decision on its future motorsport activities this month, with Formula 1 and Formula E being two of the main options.
Representatives from the Volkswagen Group – of which Porsche is a part – have been involved in discussions with F1 bosses about its future engine formula, set to be introduced after 2020.
The report claims that Porsche may want to enter F1 as an engine supplier and that it could enter Formula E as well or even instead (at a fraction of the cost).
Should Porsche want to enter Formula E as a manufacturer, its earliest opportunity would come in season six (2019-20), with one entry on the grid remaining free.
Besides the existing 10 teams, Mercedes has an option on an entry to Formula E for season five, although it would have to join as a customer team before becoming a manufacturer for season six after missing the initial deadline.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff confirmed last month that research was ongoing regarding a Formula E entry, with a decision set to be taken in October.
With Audi and BMW confirming their own works involvement in Formula E from seasons four and five respectively earlier this week, it seems to be a popular time for German manufacturers to get involved with the ever-evolving series.