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GP Week : Issue 102
GPWEEK OPINION >> opportunity to join in 2013 is one that’s too good to miss. If it happens, will it be under the banner of VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini or Porsche, we wondered. Well, that seemed to be answered at the Paris Motor Show when Porsche chairman Matthias Mueller held court. Mueller revealed that, if an F1 entry is to happen, it’ll be between Audi and Porsche as VW doesn’t want both brands going head-to-head at Le Mans in LMP1. “ We have to discuss whether it makes better sense for one of the brands to go into LMP1 and the other brand into Formula One. So we will have a roundtable to discuss the pros and cons,” he said. Porsche’s return to F1 would be fabulous for the sport, of course. It would sell a lot of t-shirts, but would it sell a lot of Boxters? As Porsche’s model range has bloated to include a luxury saloon and a 4x4 – and thus the company is pandering to a broader and more mainstream audience – F1 does make marketing sense. The company is as ambitious as it is profitable. Which is very. But one of the hallmarks of the brand - the reason you would consider taking a Porsche over a Ferrari or an Aston Martin - is its reputation for bombproof reliability. You can drive a 911 for 100,000 miles without changing the oil, I reckon. A smoking Porsche F1 car would not be a positive marketing tool. It would be a disaster. F1 cars and engines are much more reliable that days of yore, provided you’re not running X-trac hydraulics, but it’s more competitive that ever. Despite their failings on track, Jaguar’s image remained strong during 2000-2004. But Porsche – just like Aston Martin, whose owners Prodrive were wooed by F1 a few years ago – is a cut above. For the marketing to work, Porsche would have to be racing wheel-to-wheel with Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren. And they won’t be. Maybe in five years with a lot of investment and luck they could do a Red Bull, but the short-term damage would be unavoidable and unjustifiable. Audi, which shares the same level of kudos as Jaguar, could benefit perhaps. But surely the best bet is to brand it VW and run Mexican Sergio Perez (with all his Telmex millions) and Chinaman Ho- Pin Tung (with some Gravity backing), appealing to two of VW’s biggest markets. I just put these things out there and sit back... Let’s wait and see. If it happens, I’ll offer to make them a glossy magazine. Whenmotors go bad flying everywhere, and oil and coolant spraying out liberally. Maybe even a little fire. All of which we saw when Lorenzo’s M1 blew in practice at the Sachsenring, the spilled oil causing the next two riders (Spies and de Puniet) to crash. We’re coming up to the part of the season when we can expect to see more of these. Lorenzo himself is on his sixth engine, and Stoner has already raced three times on his fifth. They and others will be re-using old engines in practice that are long past their sell-by date. So we’re highly likely to see more failures before the game is over, and they will be potentially catastrophic – they do tend to happen when the throttle is wide open. If there is a lesson, other than that motors will be motors, it should be drawn from the double-crash aftermath of Lorenzo’s blow-up: riders must get off the track immediately, not coast along (as he did) until something more convenient turns up. If a simple throttle cable can hurt a rider, oil can do so even more. F1would damage Porsche – but reward VW 23