Audi’s bid for McLaren has now increased with the goal to enter Formula 1 in 2026. Porsche looks to secure a deal with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull team for an exclusive 10 year deal.
Audi is continuing to forge ahead with a takeover of British sports car maker McLaren with an entry into the manufacturer’s Formula 1 team, therefore its own journey into the pinnacle of motorsport.
As reported several times by various German and British newspapers, the Ingolstadt-based carmaker is in negotiations with the company from Woking in the UK. The industry journal “Automobilwoche” now reported that the four rings wanted to increase their offer again, from an initial 450 million to 650 million euros.
Audi has yet to comment on the exact figures. But as several media outlets speculate, there is to be a meeting of the VW supervisory board on the subject as early as this Thursday. Further, the content of the meeting will only be the entry into the McLaren Formula 1 team.
In fact, this will probably be the first step. For months there have been rumours that Audi could also seek a stake in the manufacturer behind the team. From an economic point of view, the effect would be better managed. The McLaren Group recorded a turnover of 771 million pounds in 2020 as a result of the Corona crisis – a slump of almost half. Although the manufacturer was previously on a growth course, it is and remains a niche brand.
But that is not why Audi is interested in McLaren. The focus is most certainly on Formula 1. Races have already taken place in China and the Arab world, key markets for Audi. Formula 1 is now also established in the USA.
In addition, there is a rule change that is crucial for Audi: The Volkswagen subsidiary from Ingolstadt wants to be involved in the pinnacle of motorsport from 2026. At that point, the governing body FIA is considering changing the power unit regulations. Hybrid engines are to be used and run on 100 per cent “green” fuel. Internal combustion engines are still to contribute 50 per cent of the power. For Audi, with its future strategy centred on e-mobility, this brings attractive marketing opportunities.
Further, the F1 entry is probably ultimately subject to the proviso that this rule change actually comes about. If F1 becomes more sustainable, it could become interesting for Audi, Audi boss Markus Duesmann had stressed in various interviews at the end of 2021.
But is McLaren really the only way for Audi to enter F1? There were rumours from the company that there were talks with other teams, but this was not confirmed. What seems certain is that the VW Group is generally very interested in Formula 1. The approval of the Wolfsburg car empire’s supervisory board for an entry is probably assured, provided the direction in the drive train rules are made. Especially since Porsche, another subsidiary of the VW Group, is pushing for F1 entry.
The sports car manufacturer from Zuffenhausen is aiming for a deal with the Red Bull racing team. According to Germany’s Motorsport Magazin, Porsche wants to enter into an “exclusive ten-year partnership” with the team.