Volkswagen has reportedly given the green light to Audi and Porsche to proceed with plans to enter Formula 1 in 2026.
An initial report claimed late last year that Audi had bought the McLaren Group, but it transpired that there was no weight to these rumours, and the Woking-based company denied them.
“McLaren Group is aware of a news media report stating it has been sold to Audi. This is wholly inaccurate and McLaren is seeking to have the story removed,” the British car brand said in a statement.
“McLaren’s technology strategy has always involved ongoing discussions and collaboration with relevant partners and suppliers, including other carmakers, however, there has been no change in the ownership structure of the McLaren Group.”
However, early in 2022, it was reported that Audi and Porsche were considering developing a powertrain for the 2026 season after the current engine freeze is over.
The general consensus is that they would be supplying Red Bull and McLaren, with the former seemingly indecisive as to whether or not they wish to start making their own engines in Milton Keynes following their decision to maintain a partnership with Honda that sees their powertrains manufactured in Japan.
That came after they had initially made a deal to buy the Japanese motoring giant’s intellectual assets, but their power units will be made for them for the next four seasons.
Audi and Porsche have been awaiting confirmation from parent company Volkswagen that the deal can go through, and rumours have resurfaced that Audi may try to buy McLaren for 500 million euros.
A meeting is expected to take place next Thursday, at such time it is anticipated that Volkswagen will give the green light.
“We will hopefully be able to communicate our intention to enter into Formula One then,” one source told Reuters.
Another affirmed that there is a “good chance” that Volkswagen will be happy to venture into the pinnacle of motorsport.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has no interest in discussing these reports until someone comes forward with a tangible statement of intent.
“If they decide (to come in) then there’s a conversation to be had but at this point we don’t want to have any conversations until we know someone is committed to the sport,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.
Could Audi buy McLaren?
Going by the rumours in recent months, it does seem as though Audi have the financial resources and intent to buy McLaren, but they would of course need to retain the spirit of a team that has won eight constructors’ titles in its proud racing history.
What we absolutely do not want is for them to buy the team, realise that the requisites are a lot harsher than anticipated, and leave McLaren high and dry much like BMW did to Sauber in 2009.