DECEMBER 13, 1999
Audi and Porsche
Such an arrangement is not impossible. Porsche has often said that it would be happy to build a new Formula 1 engine if someone was willing to pay for it but a year ago Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking said he would prefer to invest in production facilities to meet the demand for Porsche's 911 and Boxster models. For many Porsche engineers Formula 1 is unfinished business after the debacle in 1991 when the company produced a V12 engine for the Footwork (Arrows) team. They would like to remind F1 that the TAG turbo engines of the early 1980s broke all existing F1 records with their success with McLaren. As recently as 1995 Porsche engineers at Weissach designed a prototype V10 F1 engine but the project was never developed. Audi has had a similar history of F1 feasibility studies.
The two companies have many links not least of which is that fact that its chairman Ferdinand Piech is the nephew of FerryÊPorsche, who established the company in 1950, and the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche who designed the VolkswagenÊBeetle - the car which helped VW become the giant firm it is today. Piech was a Porsche engineer himself in the 1960s - specializing in motorsport before becoming technical director of Porsche's Experimental Department at Zuffhausen. He has been with Volkswagen since 1972 and has run the company since 1993.
It should be remembered that Porsche is already working closely with Audi on the development of a sports utility vehicle for the United States market and that it was the company's intention to concentrate on such engineering projects that was cited as the reason for the recent withdrawal from sportscar racing.