Lamborghini is a famous supercar manufacturer known for designing and building some of the most exotic and sought-after cars on the planet. Despite this world-wide popularity, you don’t usually hear much about Lamborghini joining Formula 1.
Lamborghini will likely not join F1 in the near future. Lamborghini served a short stint in F1 as an engine supplier in the early 1990s, but they never joined as an official team. Lamborghini is owned by the Volkswagen group, which ultimately decides whether they join the sport or not.
The competition in F1 is difficult to catch up to and it can be tough to keep up with the rest of the teams when joining as a new team. Joining Formula 1 is also just not a simple process, which we will discuss in more detail below.
Has Lamborghini Ever Been In F1?
Lamborghini was in F1 for a very short time, and their stint wasn’t too successful. The decision was made in 1989 to join the sport as an engine supplier for the Larrousse F1 team. This means that Lamborghini only supplied engines to other teams and never had an official Formula 1 team.
Entering the sport as an engine supplier to a midfield team, Lamborghini pounced on the opportunity to build a 3.5-liter V12 engine for a team right when there was a major shakeup in the engine regulations. The sudden banning of turbochargers meant that all teams were scrambling and starting from scratch.
Lamborghini built a decent engine, although it was quite unreliable, achieving a highest finish of sixth at the Spanish Grand Prix in their first season. In the second season, the engine scored a third-place finish at Suzuka. This was the first and only time a Lamborghini engine secured a podium in F1.
An Unofficial Lamborghini F1 Team
Technically, Lamborghini had their own Formula 1 team. However, they were never known as Lamborghini, and officially the Lamborghini team never existed. This might seem strange to some, but they had some good reasons behind this.
In 1991, Lamborghini, still owned by Chrysler at the time, wanted a chassis to be built to match their engine. This would be the creation of the Lamborghini Formula 1 car. The team poached Ferrari engineers to help them build the chassis and their official name was “Team Modena,” named after the famous Italian city where they were now based.
Staying Out Of The Limelight
Lamborghini didn’t want to put their own name on their team as they were expecting to have a slow start and a difficult season compared to their competition. Their biggest automotive rivals, Ferrari, were legends of the sport, and on the road. By putting their name on a potentially losing team, Lamborghini could have garnered unwanted negative attention.
Lamborghini knew they couldn’t compete with Ferrari just yet, and they didn’t want to ruin their brand image by being beaten by their bitter Italian rivals. The team had a strong start with a seventh-place finish. However, their car quickly took a turn for the worse as they were eventually out developed and struggled to even qualify for races. Chrysler called off the Formula 1 project in 1993.
Could Lamborghini Join F1?
Lamborghini could join F1 in the future as they do have a history in motorsport and are currently running cars in DTM. Lamborghini is a worldwide brand with many loyal fans, but the costs of joining F1 are so great, and the development race so competitive, that it may not make financial sense.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to new teams joining Formula 1. These are all factors that Lamborghini would be carefully considering before they made any sort of entry into the sport. There are barriers to entering Formula 1, even if you are one of the most famous luxury car brands in the world.
The Financials Of F1
The first barrier that Lamborghini would face is the financial side of F1. Formula 1 teams spend a huge amount of money during the season. Simply making it through the season is expensive on its own, but teams need to be competitive to make it worthwhile. Aside from that, new teams have to pay $200 million just to join F1.
The $140 million budget cap would give Lamborghini a good idea of what they can expect to spend during a season. However, there is so much more going on behind the scenes that needs to be considered.
Elements such as the drivers’ salaries are not included in the cost cap, for example. On top of that, they would also need to consider the cost of their staff, factory, and development of their cars. All of this can become extremely expensive if a team wants to be competitive.
However, considering Lamborghini is now owned by the Volkswagen group, financials shouldn’t be too much of a concern. The automotive giant has been dominating the global motor industry for years, and they own their fair share of notable car brands, including Porsche and Audi.
Competition In F1
Lamborghini might be thinking about the last time that they were in Formula 1, which was not the most successful stint in the sport. With this reputation looming over their heads, it’s unlikely they’d be keen to try again. F1 is an extremely competitive sport, and the dominance of other teams would likely also work against any new team wanting to try their hand at F1, not just Lamborghini.
Road Car Development
There are huge benefits to joining Formula 1, though. One of these is the development of technology a constructor can use in their road cars. F1 regulations, combined with the level of competition from other automakers, force teams to develop the technology on their F1 cars, which then trickles down to their other products.
This would allow Lamborghini to implement what they have learned and developed in Formula 1 into their road cars. We’ve seen Ferrari using F1-inspired gearboxes and Mercedes-Benz using the hybrid system, and over the years we have seen many F1 innovations make their way into the automotive industry.
When it comes to exposure for brands and teams, Formula 1 is one of the best forms of motorsport that can be used as a marketing tool. Despite Lamborghini already being well known and popular all around the world, they could boost their brand image even further by competing in Formula 1.
However, there is a careful balance that needs to be considered here. If Lamborghini head into F1 and never make it to the top, it could hurt their brand image and boost that of their competitors. However, just racing in the pinnacle of motorsport and taking on events such as the Monaco Grand Prix would be a massive boost for Lamborghini, especially when it comes to motorsport fans.
Will Lamborghini Ever Join F1?
It’s highly unlikely that Lamborghini will ever join F1. There are a few reasons for this, but the main factor is that F1 is very expensive to join and then become successful in. Plus, Lamborghini likely just has limited interest, if any, in joining Formula One.
Lamborghini might have the racing pedigree, the brand name, and the fanbase to join the sport, but it’s ultimately not their decision as to whether they join F1.
The first element they will need is opportunity. Modern-day Formula 1 is so expensive that it’s often not worth considering entering a brand-new team into the sport, as there’s a low chance that they will be able to keep up with the rest of the existing pack from the start.
Entering a brand-new team means that they would need to buy or build their own factory first. They would then need to hire staff members and build a Formula 1 car from scratch, with mostly inexperienced staff. It’s like Lamborghini would be handicapped from the start when compared to the existing teams.
The best way to get into modern-day Formula 1 is by buying out an existing team, like Aston Martin did in 2021 when they took over Racing Point. Buying a team allows companies to take over factories, staff, and cars. This means all the systems are already in place, and they don’t have to spend as much extra time, effort, and money to build a team from the ground up.
Even if this opportunity presents itself soon, Lamborghini would likely be waiting in a long line of potential buyers who are ready and waiting for their perfect opportunity.
The most realistic way for Lamborghini to enter Formula 1 is as an engine supplier. The Lamborghini name and badge could be used on an engine that is supplied to a Formula 1 team, and this would also tie the Lamborghini name into the team’s name. This would be a much cheaper way for Lamborghini to become involved in F1, even if it’s not as a works team.
The Deciding Factor
Ultimately, Lamborghini is not the brand to make the decision on whether they will ever join Formula 1 in the future. As much as the Lamborghini brand might want to join the sport, the final decision lies with their owners, the Volkswagen group. Volkswagen is currently planning to enter the sport, likely as engine suppliers, through its Audi and Porsche marques – not Lamborghini.
Lamborghini is unlikely to join F1 because the Volkswagen group is planning to enter Audi and Porsche instead. Lamborghini had a short stint in F1, but they couldn’t keep up with their bitter rival Ferrari. They provided engines and chassis for teams in the past, without being a works F1 team.