Volkswagen set for key meeting as F1 rumours ramp up
Volkswagen faces a crunch meeting in Germany today (Tuesday) that could put it on a path to Formula 1 within the next few years.
The annual General Assembly and AGM for the VW Group shareholders convenes in Hannover on the back of the shock recent resignation of chairman Dr. Ferdinand Piech.
The meeting will include the election of members to the special advisory board of VW and the setting in motion of Piech's replacement.
It is likely that a combustible corporate atmosphere will precede any decisions made, after Piech was forced to resign from the board as chairman last month after a plot to oust VW CEO Martin Winterkorn was discovered.
Piech will not attend the AGM, and it will instead be chaired by automotive trade union leader Berthold Huber, who is the ex-head of the IG Metal union organisation.
Jockeying for position to be the new Chairman will be Winterkorn; Porsche CEO Matthias Muller who is also Head of VW Technical Development; Wolfgang Durheimer CEO of Bentley and Bugatti, and Audi’s Rupert Stadler.
Motorsport.com can reveal that Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, who was set to be elected to the Supervisory Board has withdrawn his candidature and instead Mr Akbhar Al Baker, Minister of State and Group Chief Executive of Qatar Airways is the replacement candidate.
More open to F1
Rumours of VW entering F1 with its Audi brand have been around for years, but the car manufacturer has long resisted it.
Motorsport.com understands that Dr Piech and other senior members of the VW Special Advisory committee were counselled by motorsport industry advisors not to enter F1 until the future constitution and governance of its commercial affairs were made clear.
However, the leading candidates are understood to be more open to the idea of VW launching one of its brands in to F1 in the next five years.
Factions within the company, including at least two Super Advisory Board Members who are known to be motorsport supporters, are especially keen for the company to have one of its brands in F1 by 2020 at the latest, so it can challenge rivals Mercedes on both a marketing and technical level.
But amid the recent company turmoil, it is likely that a F1 evaluation study is unlikely to take priority right now.
Winterkorn, as chairman of the whole group, has more pressing matters to deal when he addresses shareholders in Hannover. The most obvious is the underwhelming incomes of the VW brand itself.
The potential for VW finally taking the plunge in to F1 has increased but the speed in which it is likely to do so will be familiarly slow.
Last Thursday two replacements for Piech (and his wife Ursula who also resigned last month) on the Supervisory Board were announced. These were Julia Kuhn-Piech and Louise Kiesling, who are both nieces of Dr Ferdinand Piech.
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