Thursday, 4 December 2014

Special Feature - Formula One needs more manufacturers

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The Volkswagen Audi Group are conducting a feasibility study in relation to entering Formula One in future following the sports switch to the 1.6 litre V6 turbo charged power unit which made their debut in Formula One in 2014. The BBC reports that former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali, who recently joined Audi is sphere heading the study. If Volkswagen were to enter Formula One it is highly likely that they would enter under their Audi brand.

Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport and as such needs more car manufacturer’s involved in the sport. Honda return to Formula One in 2015 as a partner to the McLaren Formula One team. It is the first time since 2008 that the Japanese manufacturer will be involved in the sport.

The return of Honda brings to four the number of car manufacturers involved in Formula One with Honda joining Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault. Volkswagen were part of the strategy group who had been looking for Formula One to reduce the size of the engine’s used in Formula One however the German company has so far rejected suggestions that the company wanted to entire the sport.

Volkswagen are already involved in major motorsport as they run a World Rally Championship team and run a factory car in the DAKAR Rally. The Volkswagen Audi Group also run in the World Endurance championship with Audi dominating while their sister marque Porsche entered the sport in 2014 with rumours that the board of Volkswagen would pull Audi out of the World Endurance Championship following incredible success to focus on Porsche in the WEC with Audi entering Formula One.

It is believed that the sticking point is the fact that Volkswagen’s current CEO, Ferdinand Piech and Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone do not get on, on both a personal and professional level, however BBC Formula One analyst Eddie Jordan understands that Martin Winterkorn is being groomed to take over from Piech.

It is believed that after seeing the success of their chief rival Daimler AG have been so successful with their Mercedes brand the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 Team who won both the Drivers and Constructors championship in 2014 that Volkswagen are now seriously considering a Formula One entry. The sport needs more manufacturers to ensure that it keeps its place as the pinnacle of motorsport around the world and at the forefront of technological advancement that can be converted to road car production.

The last time a full works team won both the Formula One Drivers and Constructors championship in the same year was in 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari won.

The last time Formula One had more than four manufacturer’s in Formula One was in 2009 was when BMW, Toyota, Mercedes Ferrari and Renault were all involved in the sport. Formula One really needs more car manufacturers in the sport either as power unit suppliers of full works teams.

© Ben Johnston 2014

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