F1 stars hail ‘very exciting’ prospect of Audi, Porsche

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton and Alfa Romeo’s Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas (R) attend a press conference at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne on April 8, 2022, ahead of the 2022 Formula One Australian Grand Prix. William WEST / AFP

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Top drivers led by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen welcomed the “very exciting” news Friday that Porsche and Audi could be lining up on the Formula One grid in 2026.

Their Volkswagen parent group told AFP on Thursday that they were in the “final phase” of a study to assess the possibility.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton said ahead of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix that he “knew about it a long time ago already”.

“I think it’s great that we’re going to get new manufacturers in the sport, especially as you see there are a lot of teams that have the potential to be tough teams.

“So I think it is going to be great moving forward and I welcome it,” added the Mercedes star.

Porsche chief Oliver Blume said last month that a study of entering F1 was under way, with media reports suggesting “negotiations” with Red Bull, the team of current world champion Verstappen.

The Dutchman was enthusiastic about their potential entry, calling it “very exciting”.

“And it’s very important for Formula One as well. We have 10 great teams, but also to have the really big brands behind them, it’s really nice to see that commitment.

“I’m looking forward to what the future will bring to the teams,” he added, speaking in Melbourne.

Hamilton’s former Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who is now racing with Alfa Romeo, called it “great news”.

“It would be nice to see more teams actually in Formula One, there’s only 10,” he said.

“I remember watching Formula One as a kid and the grid was much bigger, which makes it more exciting.”

© Agence France-Presse