German automaker Porsche and Formula 1 team Red Bull Racing discontinued talks about a potential F1 partnership, Porsche said Friday in a brief statement. The news comes after months of discussions and years of rumors that Porsche was considering a re-entry into F1. That return is still on the table, to be clear. A path forward is looking a lot hazier, though.
Porsche's statement was brief: "The premise was always that a partnership would be based on an equal footing, which would include not only an engine partnership but also the team. This could not be achieved," it said. "With the finalized rule changes, the racing series nevertheless remains an attractive environment for Porsche, which will continue to be monitored."
Red Bull sounded interested in getting Porsche involved with its newly formed powertrains division and perhaps Red Bull felt comfortable giving the Stuttgart automaker power over engine development. Porsche, in contrast, reportedly wanted an equal stake in Red Bull Technology—the company that designs and builds the cars themselves. Red Bull may not have been interested in ceding any control, spiking any proposed partnership.
The fact that Red Bull was willing to walk away from a deal is telling. The Milton Keynes-based team, despite dealing with one of the strongest brands in the world, held almost all of the cards. It won the driver's world championship last year, it's set to do it again this year, and with engine expertise from Honda, it may be comfortable that its powertrains will continue to perform through the regulation change in 2026. After years of Mercedes dominance, it's the new top dog—and Red Bull is acting like it.
All of this raises the question of how Porsche will get into F1 now that the Red Bull deal has fallen through. In the face of Audi's successful bid to take over Sauber, the pressure is on.
Forming a new team seems unlikely considering the fierce resistance the American Andretti outfit has faced despite being backed by one of the most storied names in racing. F1 may be more open to a European automaker entering the sport with a new team rather than an American motorsports organization, but it's still an uphill battle for Porsche. The investment would be massive, and even if it managed to build a slew of cutting-edge facilities and hire excellent staff, there's no guarantee it would succeed for several years.
Looking up and down the grid, it's unclear if there's any podium-fighting team that would be willing to partner with the automaker. Porsche clearly wants to get into the sport and start winning immediately. It wouldn't have attempted to court the reigning world champs if that wasn't the case. A partnership with the likes of Williams or Haas—the only real potentially available teams—would probably not be something it's interested in.
The brand has time until 2026 to figure out what it's going to do. Its next steps forward will doubtlessly be interesting.
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