Why Max Verstappen could have a new team-mate if Porsche 2026 deal goes through

Reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen could have a new team-mate at Red Bull in 2026 if the deal to bring in Porsche as part of the team’s engine division goes through.

It was announced on Monday that Porsche and Audi, both German car giants, will be entering F1 in 2026. The companies come under the Volkswagen Group banner.

Although they have had involvement in top-tier motor racing, such as the World Endurance Championship, Audi has not participated in F1 since its inaugural season in 1950.

Porsche, meanwhile, competed as a works team for a brief spell between 1957 and 1962. They secured third place in the Constructors’ Championship in 1961, before American driver Dan Gurney recorded their only win with victory in the 1962 French Grand Prix.

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Following this, they spent two further years as a private outfit before departing F1. Porsche returned to the sport for an unsuccessful stint as an engine supplier to minnows Footwork in 1991. After just six races, the team ditched Porsche engines.

For 2026, Audi are set to enter as a works team. According to reports, they will either enter their own team or buy out one of F1’s existing competitors.

Porsche, meanwhile, are set to enter into a partnership with an engine division. BBC Sport claim that, as per F1 insiders, the car giants are preparing for an alliance with Red Bull‘s engine division.

Why Max Verstappen could be given a new team-mate for 2026

Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said that both Porsche and Audi would try to have one German driver employed in their teams when they get into F1.

He said (quotes via Motorsport.com): “Formula 1 has not been successful in the US until now, but of course, it is now coming.

“Of course, it is always the case that a driver from the right country can be very successful in that country, and Formula 1 becomes very popular. We will try to employ German drivers in our two teams for sure.”

If Porsche are enlisted as a Red Bull engine division partner, therefore, Max Verstappen could have a new team-mate. The Dutchman has a contract with the team until 2028. However, there is no indication yet that any deal would result in Red Bull employing a German driver – or whether the Milton Keynes outfit would accept such an arrangement. Still, Diess’ comments are of noteworthy interest.

Read more: Max Verstappen salary: Red Bull offer champion biggest deal in F1 history

Any decision may be unlikely to affect current team-mate Sergio Perez, who turns 36 in 2026. The Mexican’s current contract at Red Bull expires at the end of this year, but he has had an impressive start to the 2022 season. Perez secured pole position in Saudi Arabia, and would likely have won the race had he not pitted shortly before a safety car period.

Which German drivers could enter F1?

This season, two German drivers have driven a Grand Prix – Aston Martin pair Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenburg. Vettel is the full-time driver, while Hulkenburg subbed for his compatriot for two races after he tested positive for Covid-19.

Vettel drove for Red Bull between 2009 and 2014. He won four world titles in that time. However, as he turns 39 in 2026, it would be hard to see Vettel making a return to the team if it wished to have a German driver.

One other recent German F1 driver is Pascal Wehrlein. The 27-year-old impressed with Manor Racing in 2016, securing the team’s only point that season, before moving to Sauber. He currently races in Formula E, where he has one win to his name this season.

22-year-old German driver David Beckmann, meanwhile, is a reserve driver in Formula E. He also competed in the most recent Formula 2 meeting at Imola.

In F3, David Schumacher is the son of former Grand Prix winner Ralf and nephew of seven-time world champion Michael.

Sophia Floersch, meanwhile, recently recorded the best-ever result by a female driver in the European Le Mans Series, finishing second in France, and is set to race in the Le Mans 24 Hours later this year. She would be the first female race driver in F1 for over three decades.

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