Earlier this year, McLaren and Audi discussed a potential partnership. Still, the talks have fizzled out since McLaren has undoubtedly ruled out the possibility of relinquishing its name while handing over control to Audi.
Audi intended to join Formula 1 in 2026 with an in-house engine and a team in its name, but these plans have been complicated following talks with McLaren that have ended prematurely. Audi still has a project in place, and although a finalised decision hasn't been made, the Volkswagen Group has confirmed some minor details.
Approaching the development of the F1-spec V6 internal combustion engine built by the VW sister company Porsche would be the most straightforward path for Audi. Porsche's V6 has undergone dyno-testing, but Audi would still need to find a partner. Despite the lack of talks about starting a new team, it's doubtful the Audi team would be fulfilled in becoming an engine supplier like Honda for McLaren and Red Bull.
McLaren's current engine deal with Mercedes will be up in 2025, and the F1 team is welcoming brand-new investments and technological partnerships, but Aldi wants a stake. It's no surprise that Aldi has shown interest in McLaren as they're one of the most established names in Formula 1.
The 2022 season hasn't been flawless by any means, but McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are currently seventh and twelve in the drivers' championship, respectively. In addition, the British and Australian are fifth in the constructors' championship, and you can support McLaren in the UK with bookies that provide top-10 finish props. The British standout Norris has placed within the top-10 in 9 of this season's 12 Grands Prix thus far. Although the drivers' and constructors' championships are likely out of reach for McLaren, it's understandable why Audi has shown a keen interest in purchasing the team.
It's a no from McLaren
Following the 2022 Miami Grand Prix, the CEO of McLaren Racing, Zak Brown, discussed the situation regarding his organization's sit-down with Audi. He openly admitted talks about a partnership with Audi were brought to the table, but McLaren had ultimately removed the choice of Audi buying the team. McLaren doesn't want to relinquish control, nor do they want to give up the team's name. Unless Audi approaches McLaren with an alternate offer, there is no chance of a deal coming to fruition.
Brown didn't highlight the details of what Audi wanted and how his team responded, but he assertively stated that McLaren won't entertain a partnership unless the team will still be its own – and that there's no chance of them changing their current stance.
As the possibility of an outright sale is out of the question, Brown did say the door is open for an engine deal. Team boss Andreas Seidl will ultimately decide which engine will enter the McLaren cars, and this is an approach that manufacturers can approach them with. A working Audi engine isn't the worst idea. This would draw interest from most teams, including McLaren, who would undoubtedly benefit from having a bespoke engine to deliver the most outstanding possible performance. Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine, and Red Bull all possess that, as the other teams within F1 are out-and-out customers. The results speak for themselves, as customer teams have won just 15 of the 165 races that have taken place since the V6 turbo-hybrid era started.
When asked if a works engine is a priority for McLaren to remove their notable deficit to F1's most domineering teams, Seidl said: "In general, if you would have an exciting opportunity to have your engine in the car, it's obviously always something you would explore as a team in our situation. "But we have now in our car the championship-winning power unit that was the benchmark for many, many years in the sport. "We're delighted with that because it gives us a great reference on where we are as a team. "We are pleased with having a long-term partnership in place with Mercedes. There's no reason for us to think about any change."
So, unless Audi is willing to alter the conditions of its F1 entry, McLaren isn't an available option. Alternatively, they could approach Aston Martin or Sauber with the same