Porsche 919 Hybrid

Go back a few years and you may have heard rumors of Porsche heading into Formula One. That never came to pass – or at least, it hasn't yet – but that doesn't mean that it wasn't close to happening. That's how committed to returning to top-level motorsport competition Porsche has become recently.

Autosport reports that just as Porsche was merging fully into the Volkswagen Group, Zuffenhausen was weighing its options for a factory racing program. Le Mans was its favorite, which makes sense, as it remains far and away the most successful constructor in the history of the famous endurance race. But the strategists at Porsche were worried that its new corporate overlords at Volkswagen wouldn't support two LMP1 programs and would favor Audi, which has positively dominated the modern era of endurance racing, coming second only to Porsche in the number of Le Mans victories it has scored to date.

Porsche's Plan B was reportedly to head into Formula One, although it isn't clear if the German automaker was intent on starting its own team, buying an existing one or merely providing engines to other teams. Porsche fielded its own cars in F1 in the late 1950s and early 60s, and returned as an engine supplier with TAG to power McLaren in the 1980s, powering Niki Lauda and Alain Prost to the World Championship in 1984 and 1985.

Either way, VW apparently has no qualms – or has at least gotten over them – about letting two of its divisions duke it out at La Sarthe, and that's exactly what they're going to do. It promises to be an epic showdown.