Looks like Porsche’s aspirations to get in on Formula 1 aren’t dead after all, with the German performance car giant reportedly eyeing a works team partnership with McLaren.
Earlier this year, Porsche seemed as if it was going to join the F1 grid with Red Bull, the reigning Constructor’s Champion. Documents emerged that suggested Porsche wanted to acquire a 50% stake in the top team and collaborate on a new power unit… But since then, those plans have fallen through.
Now it seems Porsche has their eyes on another team: McLaren.
According to PlanetF1, McLaren CEO Zak Brown has been discussing a possible move away from Mercedes engines to Porsche for the 2026 season.
“Volkswagen, who own Porsche and Audi, have made it clear they are looking to partner Porsche with an existing team rather than create their own and they could even enter the sport solely as an engine supplier,” they explain.
Of course, the last time McLaren raced with Porsche engines was one of the British team’s most dominant eras in the sport, with Alain Prost and Niki Lauda securing three Driver’s Championships and two Constructor’s Championships with TAG-branded turbo-charged Porsche power.
Both Brown and McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl both have links to Porsche, too. Seidl was previously team principal at Porsche’s LMP1 squad, and Brown raced in factory-supported Porsches during his endurance racing days.
Brown has publically demurred any suggestions that McLaren would switch away from Mercedes engines but has also hinted that McLaren could be interested in a Porsche deal.
“There are obviously benefits to being a works team with some of the advanced knowledge that you get… [But] we’re very happy with Mercedes,” Brown said, as GPFans.com reports.
“I’m a believer that you can win a world championship with a customer engine. I think the engine in our car is no different than the engine in Lewis [Hamilton’s] car… We have a long-term contract with Mercedes, are very happy with the collaboration and aren’t really spending too much time thinking about 2026 and beyond.”Zak Brown
That said, the last time a customer team won the Constructor’s Championship was Red Bull with Renault engines back in 2013 and in 2022, the top four teams (Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Alpine) were all works teams.
We can understand why McLaren might be hesitant, though. Their last stint as a works team with Honda was disastrous, so they might be once bitten, twice shy.
Porsche isn’t the only Volkswagen Group brand that’s planning to join F1. Audi recently announced a partnership with Sauber Motorsports (who are currently competing as Alfa Romeo and use Ferrari engines), with the German brand joining the grid in 2026. This isn’t just a rumour, either: it’s locked in.
Unlike the proposed Porsche/Red Bull deal as well as any potential McLaren deal, where Red Bull or McLaren would maintain overall control and branding of the team with Porsche operating as more of a powertrain and technical partner, Audi is instead taking over the Sauber team entirely.
It’s not clear how big Audi’s stake in Sauber is, but what is clear is that they will produce their own power unit in Bavaria, and plan on throwing big money behind the project.
Seeing as Porsche and Audi are part of the same company, there’s a good chance that a Porsche/McLaren partnership’s power unit might be either identical or significantly derived from Audi’s unit.