Over the last few months, Porsche has been keeping quiet about a mysterious engine project that's been going down in the Weissach skunkworks, leading to speculation that the German marque could be returning to Formula One. Brand engineers that developed powerplants for the company's LMP1 program have been hard at work, though executives won't leak out specifics. However, recent news from the deputy chairman of Porsche's executive board, Lutz Meschke, reveals that the manufacturer is in serious talks with the FIA about rejoining the top tier of motorsport by 2021.
Porsche's former relationship with F1 ended in the early '90s, when its collaboration with the Footwork team concluded rather disastrously; heavy, slow, and unreliable engines quickly put the Stuttgart crew out of business as a supplier. But recent developments show that it could be on board with new regulations that are due four years from now. Talks of ditching the hybrid system for a simpler, more efficient twin-turbo V6 have swirled around, and it could be Porsche's way in to producing cheaper engines for Formula One teams.
Meschke told Autosport that Porsche is seriously considering a comeback to the sport, explaining, "F1 could be one of the right places." He continued, "As you know Formula E is very important for us now, and F1 is always a good topic to think about."
"And I think we are in quite good discussions regarding the new engine."
Porsche's decision to join Formula E was a momentous one that shocked the motorsport community, but it showed the company's investment in affordable future tech. If F1 were to follow suit by reducing overall operating costs and narrowing the competitive gap, Porsche would have good reason to invest.
Meschke added that "discussions are around being a supplier", so don't expect a works team from the brand.
Possible partners include Williams, which had a technology partnership with Porsche before the brand's Hybrid Power division was sold off, as well as McLaren, though the two are currently competitors in the production car segment.
F1's commercial chief Sean Bratches noted earlier on that the series would love to have Porsche join in, and complimented the brand's rich racing pedigree.
"Ultimately we're trying to create a platform and environment where more engine manufacturers and brands and teams come into this sport and make it a compelling business proposition to do so," Bratches told Autosport.
"The inclusion of Porsche, which is a heritage racing brand in our sport, would be highly valued."