Porsche are making a comeback to mainstream motor racing in 2014 with an entry in World Endurance Championship, taking on Audi and Toyota. In doing so, the German manufacturer has snubbed Formula One, saying that F1 is no longer relevant to road cars.
The company have said “Porsche has always lived for the transfer of racing to production cars. For that reason it was clear two or three years ago that we had to be back in high-level motor sport, and it was a choice between top-flight sportscars or Formula One”.
“But the final decision was the only logical one. F1 was an alternative, but the road relevance is not there”.
Porsche couldn’t be more correct in their assessment of the sport; tyres that wouldn’t see you to the post office and back, Drag Reduction Systems to boost straight line speed and Kenetic Energy Recovery Systems that increase power using wasted braking energy have no place on public roads. It’s something that Formula One has been criticised over many times. But should Formula One be relevant to road cars?
Formula One operates in a different world to the rest of us; the astronomical amount of money involved allows the sport to appear completely fantastical, and whether the cars at the heart of it are relevant shouldn’t matter – it’s about passion for speed and racing rather than fuel economy and practicality and perhaps that’s how it should be. Formula One should push the extremes of what’s technically possible in the pursuit a of an unequalled motor racing spectacle.
Although Porsche have been involved in Formula One before – their only win coming courtesy of Dan Gurney in the 1962 French Grand Prix – the company’s needs have changed since then. Porsche know what is important to them and Formula One just doesn’t tick the right boxes, but their remarks shouldn’t be seen as criticism; Formula One should be an extravagant and almost alien world – there’s a place for road-relevance and Formula One isn’t it – F1 should be a place where the creativity of designers isn’t restrained by the needs of the public but rather to satisfy the need for speed.
I don’t feel that Formula One’s irrelevance should be criticised, rather it should be celebrated; the need to be economical with the earth’s resources and preserve the health of its inhabitants is a rather depressing yet admittedly necessary thing to have to consider. The irrelevance of F1 and it’s flamboyance compared to the everyday needs of road users allows for some escapism from the doom and gloom of the “real world”.
Next year, Formula One cars will swap their current 2.4 litre V8 engines for more economical 1.6 litre Turbo charged units – a step towards road-going relevance that should, in the opinion of this fan, be it’s only step in that direction.
The World Endurance Championship will be better for having Porsche but Formula one will be no worse off as it continues to be a unique and almost entirely irrelevant pleasure. It will hopefully continue to lack the relevance Porsche desire because ultimately, I believe it’s part of what makes F1 so intriguing.