McLaren’s induction in the Volkswagen group can create the most powerful supercar brand group in the world
A report by Car Magazine UK has propped up rumours of the Volkswagen group acquiring McLaren again. Reportedly, Audi which is a subsidiary of the Volkswagen group will purchase McLaren whose automotive arm has been struggling because of the pandemic and has lost its long-time CEO Mike Flewitt a couple of months ago. Audi will also team up with McLaren’s motorsports unit and will supply it with F1 engines which will enable the Volkswagen group to make its long-awaited entry into F1 as a manufacturer.
Audi’s sister brand Porsche is looking at a team-up with Red Bull and its newly formed powertrains engine division which acquired Honda’s engine IP after the Japanese manufacturer’s exit from the sport late last year. Honda still has an exclusivity period and is also helping Red Bull with the transition to the new E10 biofuel that will be used in F1 cars next the year onwards.
Porsche is also looking to enter F1 as an engine manufacturer and will likely acquire or co-own Red Bull’s Powertrains division when it enters the sport. 2026 is the likely timeline for the two brands to enter F1 as there will be a new engine formula that has been devised by the FIA in collaboration with the Volkswagen group. These new engines will have more electrical output, and the internal combustion elements will be powered by fully sustainable biofuel. There will be a 1.6 V6 engine supported with a 475 bhp electrical hybrid system which is twice as powerful as the current hybrid system.
As for Audi acquiring McLaren, well, there are reports Mumtalakat Holding Company which has a major stake in the Woking-based supercar maker is ready to sell. In case, the deal with McLaren falls through, there is a backup plan for Audi to team up or acquire Williams F1 which already has a bunch of ex Volkswagen personnel like its CEO Jost Capito, and Porsche will like to team up with Red Bull’s b-team AlphaTauri and may even look at Haas which is backed by Ferrari right now.
This way, Volkswagen group will be able to introduce its engine technology to F1 without having the development costs of a chassis department and these brands would get marketing muscle thanks to the reach and scale of F1. The partnership with Red Bull will also reduce the engine development costs something Honda suffered from which eventually led to its exit despite Verstappen winning the world title in 2021.
On top of this if McLaren were to be acquired by Audi, then the group would become the most powerful hypercar unit in the world with Audi, Porsche, McLaren, Bugatti, Rimac and, Lamborghini being all under one group. While this has been happening, Zak Brown, who is the CEO of the McLaren racing division has reiterated that the British carmaker’s financial health is extremely sound thanks to some new investment and the sale of its technology center.
Audi and Porsche can’t just create F1 tech just from the ground up and due to the complexity of German labour laws, the Volkswagen group, needs to look at acquisitions that create a unit from within.