McLaren confirms talks with Volkswagen Group


McLaren boss, Zak Brown has confirmed that the Woking-based outfit has held exploratory talks with the board of the Volkswagen Group with a view to partnering with one of its entities, including Audi.

With the sport promising to go ever greener, especially with the new engine formulae due to be introduced in 2026, for some time there has been talk of the VW Group entering F1 courtesy one of its many brands, the most likely being Porsche or Audi. Indeed, though not a current participant, the German giant has been invited to discussions on the future of the sport's engine rules.

Though it is unclear which of the brands might enter the sport, or even both, it has been stressed that they would prefer to enter as a manufacturer and partner rather than a team in their own right.

With talk of a decision from VW by the end of February, McLaren boss, Zak Brown, who last November had to issue a statement denying media reports that Audi had bought the company, admits that talks have been held with the group.

"They've spoken with a handful of people on the grid, and we had conversations," the American told reporters, referring to the VW Group.

"I am hearing they are going to do something with Red Bull on the Porsche front," he added.

"As you would imagine we have had conversations but in the short term and medium term we're very happy where we are," he insisted, referring to the current partnership with Mercedes which he expects to run its course until 2026 and the new engine formula.

"So we are just going to wait and see are they going to come into the sport, because that's not been definitively decided. If they do, we have a contract through this term and naturally we're going to evaluate where we are and take a decision on what we do in 2026 in due course."

Brown, who at the start of the week issued a blistering, but well received, certainly by fans, attack on the confused governance of the sport and the increasing power of certain teams and their bosses, added to the Lewis Hamilton 'will he, won't he' saga by opining that the seven-time champion, who was brought into the sport by McLaren, and in particular Ron Dennis, may walk away.

"I wouldn't be shocked if he stopped," said the American. "I don't think anyone should take for granted he's coming back.

"My personal opinion is he's going to return but I don't think we should discount or not recognise his frustration, his anger," he added. "I don't think we should rule it out or make light of it. I just personally think he still has a burning desire to race and that will ultimately drive his decision.

"I don't think he's ready to retire," he said. "I don't think he's going to let an incident put him into retirement."

The American also poured doubt on F1's hopes for at least six Sprints this season, admitting that the teams are divided over increasing the budget cap in order to cover the anticipated cost should damage be incurred in any of the events.

"A couple of teams, and one team in particular, wanted a $5m budget cap increase, which was just ridiculous," he said. "And no rational facts behind it... when you challenged them, they go to 'what if' and 'could' and 'you've got to anticipate'. You sit there and go 'this is just nonsense'.

"Maybe there can be a compromise and we raise it a little bit, and we start in 2022 or we skip 2022, and a couple of these teams should have to explain to the fans why there is no sprint races," he added.

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Published: 19/01/2022
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