Jump in or stay away from F1 – A visit to Porsche’s headquarters

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Porsche has been tipped to join the fray of Formula One as an engine supplier in the near future. F1technical.net’s Balázs Szabó visited Porsche’s headquarters in Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart to catch a glimpse on the marvellous racing history of the illustrious marque and get informed about Porsche’ future plans.

The German automobile maker has succeeded in producing sports cars that are known for performance, quality, and reliability. Above all, the Porsche is popular for producing prestigious sports cars that can be used for everyday driving.

History

The company was founded by Ferdinand Porsche, who was the chief engineer at Mercedes-Benz. He later incorporated his personal engineering plant, where he had developed numerous designs for the ‘People’s Car’ or popularly known as the ‘Volkswagen’. By 1931, Ferdinand incorporated a company under his own name: ‘Porsche’. Since he was the engineer for the first Volkswagen, the first Porsche created was manufactured from the machinery of the VW Beetle. In 1938, the first Porsche known as the ‘Porsche 64’ was released by the company. The vehicle gained a lot of popularity and this was the start of the successful time in the history of Porsche. In the 40s, due to the impending war, Porsche was responsible for creating several designs for heavy tanks and had to cease its production because of the Volkswagen plant being destroyed. However, in 1947, the company returned to producing vehicles and designed a new Grand Prix racing car in Gmund, Austria. A year later, Ferdinand’s son Ferry Porsche built the company’s first sports car, the 356.

In 1961, Porsche was working on producing a new vehicle which would use a 6-cylinder engine. The body was designed by Ferry’s son, Alexander Porsche. Two years later, the famous Porsche 911 made its debut at the Frankfurt International Automobile Show and the rear air cool engine concept was retained (similar to that of the VW Beetle). During the 70s, Porsche reached a new level of success by introducing its well-known 917 with a 4.5-liter 12-cylinder boxer engine. The car won almost every competition it entered. In 1972, Porsche went public and work began on the Weissach Research and Development Center. Two years later, the 911 Turbo made its debut, which marked a new beginning in Porsche’s era. In 1982, Porsche’s 956 became the most successful sports car of the time. Three years later, the company introduced the 959 which came equipped with the latest technology. However, only a limited number of these Porsche cars were built, but it became the first sports car to win the Paris Dakar. In 1988, the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 made its debut.

In 1993, Porsche introduces its Boxter concept car at the Detroit Auto Show, which became an immediate success. Two years later, the new 911 Turbo made its debut, which featured the bi-turbo engine.

Currently, Porsche is owned by Volkswagen AG and specializes mainly in producing sedans, SUVs, hypercars, supercars, and high-performance sports cars. Additionally, the company has two subsidiaries, namely Porsche Consulting Group and Mieschke Hofmann und Partner.

Realignment of motorsport activites

“Porsche has no concrete Formula 1 plans,” the Porsche spokesperson answered to F1technical.net when asked about a possible involvement in the Moving Circus.

Despite having no concrete plans, Porsche is an active member of the discussion between FIA and the current F1 engine manufacturers about the new engine formula which will come into force as of 2021. Porsche participated previously in six F1 season, between 1957 and 1962, reaching its top with Dan Gurney behind the wheel who won the 1962 French Grand Prix.

“As a member of the FIA ​​manufacturer commission, Porsche is involved in discussions about the future power unit strategy in Formula 1 from 2021 onwards. The engineers of the former Porsche LMP team have received a test order for the development of a high-performance internal combustion engine. The decision is the construction of a single-cylinder test carrier. This order initially runs for 18 months. A later purpose is not specified.”

Meanwhile Porsche goes through a complete realignment of its motorsport activities. It took leave of WEC’ LMP1 category, but remained committed to the GT sports car categories.

“Porsche remains the brand with the largest stake in WEC. Like in 2017, Porsche uses two 911 RSRs at the factory and fights against the world championship titles awarded there - against other manufacturers such as Ferrari, Aston Martin, Ford and BMW. In addition, customers in the GTE-AM class will use four more 911 RSRs. At the season's highlight, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, there are a total of ten (!) 911 RSR at the start. Thus, Porsche represents one third of the total GT field.”

The Zuffenhausen-based company extends its presence in motorsport, joining the all-electric Formula E series from 2019

“The entry into the Formula E and the associated reorganization of the motorsport engagements derives from the Porsche Strategy 2025. In addition to purist GT street sports cars, fully electric sports cars are also firmly anchored here. Both should be reflected in the Porsche Motorsport world in the future as well. Because a large part of the "Mission E" of the company is also the presence and success in motorsport with electrically powered racing cars.

Formula E is currently the most competitive environment to increase the development rate of high-performance vehicles in terms of environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability.”

Porsche is serious about the sweeping electrification across the automotive industry and its effect on motorsport. The company has already unveiled its first fully electric car and is about to bring that to the market in 2019.

The Porsche Mission E is the internal designation for an all-electric 4-door coupe from Porsche, which was unveiled as a concept car at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. It is Porsche's first fully electric car which E will be priced like entry-level Panamera, which begins at $85,000. The Mission E, built on an entirely new platform codenamed J1, is expected to go into production at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen plant in 2019 with a projected production of around 15,000-20,000 units per year.