Mercedes superstar Lewis Hamilton believes the potential addition of Audi and Porsche to the number of engine suppliers in Formula 1 is a good thing – despite suggestions Red Bull could exercise a loophole amid the new manufacturers joining. Audi and Porsche have been linked with joining the F1 paddock as engine manufacturers for a number of potential teams.
After Porsche confirmed they were assessing a potential entry to F1, recent speculation has suggested the German manufacturers will partner Red Bull. Meanwhile, Audi are expected to join forces with Sauber and not McLaren as had previously touted.
When asked about the news of a rival potentially partnering with such an established brand, Hamilton was surprisingly positive. He pointed to the bottom of the grid and customer teams as the chief beneficiaries of such a move, rather than the Milton Keynes-based outfit of Red Bull.
“I mean I knew about it a long time ago already,” Hamilton said. “So I think it’s great that we’re going to get new manufacturers within the sport, especially as you see there are a lot of teams that have the potential to be top teams but are our customer teams and so I think it’s going to be great moving forward and so we welcome them in.”
Since 2010, four brand new teams have joined the grid. However, only Haas have survived after HRT, Lotus and Virgin went out of business without ever truly challenging their rivals.
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Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas believes an expanded grid of more than 10 teams would be a key priority amid the news surrounding Audi and Porsche. The Finn welcomed their potential arrival, and believes more teams would lead to a greater product.
“I think it’s great news,” said Bottas. “I think it would actually be nice to see more teams in Formula 1 at the moment.
“There’s obviously still only 10. I remember, as a kid watching Formula 1, and the grid was much bigger and I think this makes it even more exciting. So yeah, more than welcome.”
The news comes after Red Bull are reportedly looking into utilising a loophole to circumvent the budget restrictions added with the new regulations. With new technical regulations, new engine manufacturers are expected to be allowed to spend more money to get up to speed.
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Red Bull Powertrains (RBPT) is one of these ‘new’ manufacturers expected to qualify for concessions. Under current plans – 2026 rules are expected to be confirmed in June – new manufacturers like RBPT and any other who join the sport would be entitled to an extra £7.7m in their budget cap for the first two seasons, and £3.8m in the third.
As well as this, a further £11.5m allowance would be made for capital expenditure projects. Red Bull’s rivals are worried they could join forces with Porsche to gain access to even greater funds for 2026.
The likes of Mercedes and Ferrari already believe the removal of the MGU-H component from the engines has levelled the playing field, so therefore the extra budget space gives an advantage to the new manufacturers.
The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 24.