Volkswagen entering Formula 1 is a story that’s been around for years—here’s one from 2001—and yet, so far, nothing has ever eventuated. Word from the BBC says the German giant is currently undertaking a feasibility study into a possible entry into the world’s biggest motorsport melodrama and that former Ferrari Team Principal and now Volkswagen Group employee Stefano Domenicali is calling the shots.
Like most other VW–F1 rumours there’s no real expectation for anything to turn this one into reality. And, fittingly, that seems largely due to a clash of egos. What else!
According to Eddie Jordan (no he’s not the ego involved here) Volkswagen boss Ferdinand Piech thinks Bernie Ecclestone is a bit of a tossbag and while both men hold their respective controlling roles there will be no Volkswagen entry in F1.
“The Volkswagen Audi Group is the second biggest car maker in the world and as such it needs to be in Formula 1,” Jordan declared. “But it will not enter it while the sport remains under the control of Bernie Ecclestone, who VAG boss Ferdinand Piech dislikes on a personal and professional basis.
“Martin Winterkorn, the chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen, is being groomed as Piech’s successor and he has always believed that F1 is a great platform for the group’s brands.
“I am told he privately believes VAG should be a part of F1. If VAG did come to F1, I believe it would be with their own team, with the car designed and made in Germany.”
Currently Volkswagen’s involvement with open wheel racing is limited to Formula 3. We can, in part, thank them for giving Daniel Ricciardo a pathway into F1. There’s a few other names on that list, too, including Max Verstappen, pictured above racing in the European F3 championship earlier this year.
The Volkswagen Group spends the majority of its motorsport cash on WRC, WEC (Audi and Porsche) and DTM (Audi). Any entry into F1 would likely end some or perhaps all of that high profile motorsport participation.
However, you might be surprised to learn outside estimates suggest VW spent €320 million on its DTM and sportscar programs this year, compared with a net outlay of €130 million for Mercedes, who swept the F1 world aside with a dominant season. In return the perceived advertising benefit for Mercedes has been valued at $2.8 billion in 2014 against a $30 million benefit for the DTM and WEC exposure gained by Volkswagen’s brands.
You’d reckon that’s enough to give Domenicali something to think about.