This is an important handover at the head of Porsche Motorsport. After years of success, Fritz Enzinger will give way on October 1 to Thomas Laudenbach. This change has been planned for about three years. Initially, Enzinger was considering retiring at the end of the LMP1 program with the 919 Hybrid in Endurance to focus on higher level responsibilities within the Volkswagen Group. In the absence of a successor at the time, he retained his prerogatives at Porsche Motorsport in order to facilitate the transition there, while working at the head of Volkswagen’s sports activities. A function that he will continue to exercise in the future.
Previously BMW Logistics Director in Formula 1, Enzinger joined Porsche in 2011 and was one of the key figures behind the success of the LMP1 program in the WEC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Between 2014 and 2017, the German manufacturer thus won three victories in the Sarthe and won six world titles. In 2019, Enzinger took the lead of Porsche Motorsport on his own, which notably resulted in two other world crowns in Endurance, in the GTE Pro category with the 911 RSR. At the same time, the brand entered Formula E and won IMSA titles across the Atlantic.
“I take a look of pride and gratitude on what we have accomplished together”, he explains. “It was an incredibly intense period. The development of the LMP1 program, the hat-trick at Le Mans and the world titles with the 919 Hybrid, the titles with the 911 RSR, our commitment to Formula E and the preparation for our arrival in LMDh from 2023 have required strength and focus from all of us. “
“Such successes are always the result of excellent collective work. My greatest respect and thanks go to all who contributed: in the cockpit, at the edge of the runway, in Weissach, Flach and Zuffenhausen. I also thank Porsche customer teams who, among others, have won 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps. “
And yet one of Enzinger’s biggest hits may yet be to come. As we know, Volkswagen is seriously considering entering Formula 1, and the decision must be taken in the coming weeks. If Wolfsburg gives the green light for the premier class, Enzinger will have achieved what no one else in the VW group has done so far. He had already carried out preliminary work in 2017 for a possible entry into Formula 1, but the prospect of future regulations (first scheduled for 2021) had not been grasped. Now relieved of his responsibilities at Porsche, he appears to be a logical candidate for the establishment of an F1 program within the group.
Enzinger knows how to do it. For Porsche’s return to Le Mans, he started from scratch and was the linchpin in creating the team, recruiting the right engineers and key people. In addition, he knows the world of Formula 1 well since he worked there with BMW. And he had worked with Markus Duesmann, now CEO of Audi, and Oliver Blume, CEO of Porsche: two men who participated last weekend in the summit meeting organized by F1 in Monza to discuss future powertrains. .
On the sidelines of this meeting, Toto Wolff himself acknowledged on behalf of Mercedes that efforts could be made to facilitate the arrival in F1 of a new engine manufacturer from the Volkswagen Group by 2026, for example by simplifying power units and by removing the complex technical element that is the MGU-H.
For the moment, Enzinger wishes the best to his successor at the head of Porsche Motorsport, Thomas Laudenbach. 53 years old and born in Chile, he studied mechanical engineering in Karlsruhe. He went through the DTM and then joined Porsche in 1998. Director of engine development, he has held important positions in projects such as the 918 Spyder, the 911 RSR, the 911 GT3 R or the 911 GT3 Cup. Its mission is now to allow Porsche to achieve victory in the general classification in Endurance with the future LMDh prototype which will run in WEC and IMSA from 2023.
“I am delighted with the trust placed in me and I am enthusiastic about the tasks that lie ahead of me”, he promises. “The main objective is to build on the great successes that have been achieved under the leadership of Fritz Enzinger. It is a wonderful challenge.”
“We will adapt motorsport to the new conditions of the automotive industry, from customer competition to the engagement of the factory team in major championships around the world. We aim to achieve our 20th victory at Le Mans , we want to win world titles, both in Endurance and Formula E. It is also important to continue to develop customer competition. With the Mission R concept study, we are showing how attractive this can be. “