Audi bid for McLaren all but over

Audi and Porsche are both looking to enter Formula 1 in 2026.

Audi’s supposed quest to buy McLaren is seemingly dead in the water after the pair failed to come to an agreement about the price of the team, according to a report by Reuters.

Late in 2021, it was reported that Audi had already agreed a deal with the Woking-based company to purchase the entire McLaren Group, but the British motoring giants released a statement slamming the rumours as “wholly inaccurate.”

But when Porsche and Audi confirmed their collective interest in joining Formula 1 in 2026, links between the two parties began to become less tenuous, particularly when it transpired that Audi’s intentions were slightly different to the other Volkswagen subsidiary.

READ: Volkswagen boss warns window to enter Formula 1 is closing

While Porsche are reportedly aiming to manufacture powertrains for Red Bull in 2026, Audi’s quest is to buy an existing team on the grid.

They were reported to be looking at McLaren, but it seems that their respective valuations of the team make them incompatible.

“The price expectations are too far apart,” a source told Reuters.

As a result, Audi have switched their attention to the likes of Sauber, Williams and Aston Martin as possible opportunities, and Aston Martin tea principal Mike Krack, a former BMW engineer, indicated that he would be interested in a partnership with the German brand.

“I think for any team who has not a manufacturer on his side, it’s super appealing to have this possibility,” he stated.

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Team owner Lawrence Stroll has reportedly since confirmed that he has been contacted by Audi, but did not divulge any more than that.

“Have we been approached by Audi? Yes. Are we very happy with our collaboration with Mercedes? Yes. The world of Formula 1 is full of these stories,” he said, quoted by Autosprint.

Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess confirmed that work has begun on designing engines ahead of the more electrical philosophy that will be adopted in 2026 after the current freeze ends, and suggested that it would be more beneficial to join an already established team on the grid to be able to integrate the engines quickly.

“You need five or 10 years to be among the front runners. In other words, you can only get onboard if you have a major rule change. That’s coming now, and it will also come in the direction of 2026, when the engines will be electrified to a much greater extent, including with synthetic fuels,” he explained.

“That means you need a new engine development and you need three or four years to develop a new engine.

“That means you can decide now to do Formula 1 – or then probably not again for 10 years. And our two premium brands think that’s the right thing to do, and are prioritising it.”

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Porsche will have engines ready by 2026, and four years of meticulous development will have preceded the final product, but it remains to be seen whether Red Bull will show a keen interest in outsourcing the manufacture of their engines to them.

Audi, meanwhile, are still looking for a team in which to invest their money and, given Sauber’s financial position since the departure of BMW in 2009, the Swiss team racing under the Alfa Romeo name could well be a serious possibility.