Written by Gen Flauta, Edited by Simran Kanthi
As we all know, Audi is finally joining F1, with rumors swirling about acquiring a 75% stake in Sauber. And that also links to the conclusion of its partnership with Alfa Romeo at the end of the 2023 season. However, on the other hand, Porsche has already ended talks with Red Bull as going for an "equal footing" would not be the way forward for both brands. Despite the fact that Porsche finds F1 an "attractive environment" for the brand, things seem to have changed as the German sports car maker has lost interest in returning to the pinnacle of motorsport.
However, according to previous reports, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has revealed that there are other manufacturers interested in joining F1. And a recent report by Auto Motor und Sport has suggested that two manufacturers could enter Formula 1 as engine suppliers, Hyundai and Ford, but from the 2027 season. The focus of this article would be Hyundai, as they are looking to go on the same route as Audi: by becoming a newcomer to the sport.
Hyundai entering Formula 1 would make sense as rumors say that the South Korean manufacturer is looking for an exit in WRC, which was later shut down. However, when the new regulations under Rally1 took effect this season, they have been struggling to perform well despite winning the back-to-back WRC Constructors' titles in 2019 and 2020.
And because electrification has been increasingly the focus of the new engine rules, through an increase in electrical power and with the introduction of a more sustainable fuel, Hyundai could be enticed to showcase its technological prowess in F1 and expand its presence with the N performance brand, which has already been operating in numerous motorsport activities in both rally and touring car racing.
However, another way Hyundai could enter Formula 1 would be by bringing the Genesis brand, which could fit better as most of the car brands in the sport are premium brands. Genesis is still a very young brand with great potential, which was spun off by Hyundai as its own luxury brand in 2015. This would be a similar strategy to Alpine, which was rebranded from Renault to gain more exposure, despite being a more established brand than Genesis. Much like the Korean luxury car maker, Alpine is also transitioning to making high-performance EVs (Electric Vehicles) despite having ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) as the main power unit.
Genesis is already present in the virtual world with Gran Turismo 7, where they have developed two virtual race cars for the game, in the form of Genesis X GR3 and Genesis G70 GR4 race cars, along with an upcoming Vision Gran Turismo concept car on the horizon. Genesis has also become an Official Partner of this year's Gran Turismo World Series, where both of its race cars will be present and compete in the virtual racing series. All of these actions have demonstrated an increasing commitment for Genesis to expand its brand presence through racing, as well as looking to build high-performance cars with its recent concept cars. And entering Formula 1 with their banner would be a great next step.
Despite this, as mentioned previously, Hyundai is looking to enter the sport as an engine supplier. This means partnering with an existing F1 team and there are two teams Hyundai could partner up with based on their current situations and the stability they can provide for Hyundai by their experience in the sport. Among them could be Williams, which could team up as a works team with Hyundai N branding, as both brands have a similar corporate color of blue. However, with its current deal with Mercedes set to expire by the 2025 season, this might be a bit too early.
Another candidate could be McLaren, as they have already partnered with Mercedes but only as a customer team. And being a customer team will not get in the direction they would want to become World Champions again. So perhaps a McLaren-Hyundai partnership could help the Woking-based team regain its "works" status since the disastrous reunion with Honda. And after all, McLaren has had different manufacturers in the past, such as Renault, Ford, and Peugeot. Recently, McLaren has Chevrolet for IndyCar and now Nissan for Formula E.
As the deadline for new manufacturer entries for the 2026 season has been set for 15 October, we should be getting more clarity on who's joining or not. But as Hyundai would consider entering the sport a year after, another deadline to enter the 2027 season was set on 30 June 2023, which would allow them to have more time for further evaluation before making their final decision. However, regardless of what happens, having Hyundai in Formula 1 would be a great addition, by having more diversity in engine manufacturers and its country origins, as well as taking advantage of the growing audience in the sport along with new tracks on the calendar.
The new engine rules would also be a unique opportunity for Hyundai to showcase its ability to compete with the best car brands - Ferrari, Mercedes, and Audi, as well as even its Asian counterpart Honda (if they do return to the sport). However, it needs to avoid repeating the mistakes that other big manufacturers have made when entering for the first time, such as Toyota with its own F1 works team 20 years ago. Since the Hyundai brand has already matured so much and has been making breathtaking cars, such as the electric RN22e and hydrogen-powered N Vision 74, there is no better way to take the next step to represent and enhance South Korea's innovative image than to compete in the pinnacle of motorsport.