A few months back, Autocar released a report that claimed Audi outright acquired the entire McLaren brand, both road cars and its F1 team, as part of its entry into Formula 1. Immediately after that report, McLaren issued a statement denying the acquisition. Now, though, it seems as if McLaren is open to the idea of working with Audi in some capacity but it’s waiting until the German brand makes a formal decision on its future in F1.
According to this new report, McLaren racing boss Zak Brown is entertaining the idea of partnering with Audi for engines.
“I think they’ve spoken with a handful of people on the grid and, as you would imagine, we have conversations.” Brown said. “But in the short term, and medium term, we’re very happy where we are [using Mercedes-AMG engines].
Even if Audi and McLaren share their interest in working together, the British F1 team already has a deal in place with Mercedes-AMG until 2026 to use AMG’s engines. Which means McLaren needs to know about Audi’s future in F1 before it even has any discussions.
“So we’re going to just wait and see, are they going to enter the sport? Because I think that’s not been definitively decided.” said Brown. “If they do, we have a contract through this term. And naturally, we’re going to evaluate where we are and who’s in the sport, and then take a decision on what we’re going to do in 2026 in due course.”
Though, Brown does say there’s a disadvantage to using customer engines. Because AMG gets to get a first look at the engine before letting McLaren buy it, AMG has a natural advantage over McLaren. If McLaren were to partner with Audi, or even let Audi acquire some of the brand, it could use its own new engines, rather than rely on a competing team’s engines.
Audi is said to make an announcement about its F1 entry sometime this year. If the four-ringed brand does enter the sport, it’s certainly possible that it partners with McLaren in some capacity. What would happen with McLaren’s deal with AMG at that point? Unclear but something could likely be worked out. One thing’s for sure, it will be interesting to watch all of this unfold.