Porsche "would have had no other alternative" but to enter Formula 1 if its parent company had prevented it from taking on stablemate Audi at Le Mans, it has revealed.
Porsche research and development boss Wolfgang Hatz admits in this week's AUTOSPORT magazine that F1 and a return to the front of the sportscar grid in LMP1 were the only options when it was deciding how to go back to what he describes as "front-line motorsport" for the first time since the 1990s.
Incoming Porsche chairman Matthias Muller and other senior company personnel openly talked about a F1 return in autumn 2010 at a time when it was in the process of making its decision.
More Porsche 919 shots in the AUTOSPORT gallery
Hatz explained that it would have had to compete in F1 if the Volkswagen Group, which bought into Porsche in 2009, had blocked its first attempt to win the Le Mans 24 Hours since its 16th victory in 1998.
"There were only two options - F1 or LMP," he said. "But Le Mans is our second home.
"What could have influenced it was if someone in the group had said 'Yes, but Audi is there and you cannot compete with Audi'.
"If someone from senior management had said this is not possible, we would have had no other alternative [but F1]."
Porsche is committed to racing its new 919 Hybrid in the World Endurance Championship, a programme announced in June 2011, for the next three seasons.
Hatz said that a decision on its motorsport future beyond that would likely be made sometime next year.
This week's AUTOSPORT magazine - available online and in shops from Thursday March 13 - includes an in-depth feature on the Porsche 919 hybrid, with CRAIG SCARBOROUGH's comprehensive technical analysis and exclusive interviews with key players