Rumours ran riot on F1 social media that Porsche was about to announce a grand prix partnership on January 16 with a Gulf-backed Williams team.
The theories had been triggered by the German manufacturer posting a promo video on its Formula E Instagram page.
Showing an old television broadcast that, after a bit of interference, mentioned a 16 January date, Twitter posts analysing freeze frames reckoned that Porsche had teased a blurry head shot of Frank Williams.
Coming just a few days after the iconic Gulf brand had hinted about ‘big F1 news coming soon’, as it shifted teams to Williams after leaving McLaren at the end of last year, it was easy to understand why some felt that all the stars lined up.
In the end, Porsche’s announcement was absolutely nothing to do with what some had expected. Instead, it was a simple rebranding of its Instagram page.
Keen to streamline social media for all its racing activities around the world, the 16 January date that was mentioned saw it move its Instagram page away from just FE and instead bring together all of the Porsche Motorsport activities.
But the viral nature of the reaction from fans left Laudenbach bewildered: “I was so surprised that this happened in public,” he told Autosport. “It had nothing to do with it [F1]!
“We were just sorting out our [social media] channels, it didn’t have anything to do with coming close to Formula 1. We were as surprised as anyone.
“In a way, it was funny, but I think it’s all clear and sorted now.”
Thomas Laudenbach, Head of Porsche Motorsport
Photo by: Andreas Beil
Following the Volkswagen Group’s approval for Porsche to enter F1, the German manufacturer held talks with Red Bull about a potential partnership from 2026. But regular delays amid uncertainty from Red Bull about Porsche’s bid to take a 50% share in the team led to negotiations coming to an end.
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When asked if the Gulf-Williams speculation episode showed how F1 fans are hungry for Porsche to find another route to enter F1, Laudenbach replied: “You see what happens as soon as anything like this comes up… Right now we concentrate on our programmes, and we have great variety as Porsche Motorsport with IMSA, WEC, Formula E and all our customer sports, which is huge.
“We are flat-out right now and happy with it, and as for anything else, we’ll see.”