Porsche Motorsport has constructed and tested its own engine that would have been suitable for Formula 1 and a base line for the 2021 engine regulations, if they had committed into joining the sport.
The German manufacturer were part of F1’s meetings regarding 2021 engines as they looked into exploring ways to welcome new engine suppliers into the sport, with F1’s new owners Liberty Media aiming to bring more engine manufactures in compare to the four (Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda) we have in 2019.
However, Porsche’s potential of joining F1 ended when parent company Volkswagen Audi Group decided to end its LMP1 association with the World Endurance Championship in favour for a ABB FIA Formula E entry, as well as the prospect of cheaper and simplified F1 engines were put on hold.
Prior to their exit from LMP1, Porsche had started constructing a six-cylinder engine that would have been compatible for F1. Porsche’s head of Motorsport, Fritz Enzinger said to Motorsport.com that the engine was being developed for WEC, but with signs of potentially removing the MGU-H from the current F1 engine regulations, it would of made the engine suitable for F1 as well.
“In 2017 there were signals from Formula 1 that the regulations were to be changed and that energy recovery from the exhaust gases was no longer required,” said Enzinger.
“As of 2017, Porsche was a member of the FIA Manufacturers Commission and was involved in the discussions about the future drive strategy in Formula 1 from 2021 and represented at the meetings.
“On the one hand we took part in these working groups. On the other hand the guys developed a six-cylinder for the WEC in parallel. Of course, we thought about what would have to change if the engine were to be used in Formula 1. Such things can be done in two ways.”
In 2017 Porsche had a 40-person team constructing the six-cylinder engine for its LMP1 project, before deciding to pull out of the series once the rules shifted and when WEC failed to find a replacement for Audi, who left the series in 2016.
Enzinger believe that the six-cylinder concept was still being pursued because the F1 engine without a MGU-H would be interesting for super sports cars, even though they labelled their move to Formula E as a ‘obvious idea’.
“At the end of 2017, we received a concrete order from our parent company to further develop a highly efficient six-cylinder engine, despite its LMP1 withdrawal,” commented Enzinger
“Not only on paper, but actually as hardware and with the idea that this engine will be put to the test in 2019. That was the order from the board to us.”
Porsche hasn’t competed in Formula 1 as an engine manufacturer since 1991, when they supplied engines to the Footwork team.