According to media reports, Audi is about to take over the British Formula 1 division - and then the entire brand. In Ingolstadt, nobody wants to know anything about it, and BMW also plays a role in the complicated situation.
What sounds like an imaginative thought is still based on rumors about a possible entry into Formula 1 in 2026, which the Volkswagen Group is said to have. More precisely: its subsidiaries Audi and Porsche. Accordingly, Audi wants to buy McLaren and Porsche wants to team up with Red Bull from 2026. According to a report by Automobilwoche, it should now be concrete - with regard to Audi: According to this, the Ingolstadt company had increased its offer for McLaren's Formula 1 division from 450 to 650 million euros. In addition, both parties are said to have signed a corresponding letter of intent on Monday, April 4, 2022, which initiates the change of ownership. Audi is even said to be interested in taking over the sports car manufacturer McLaren Cars completely in a second step.
However, Audi immediately denied the report. According to a spokesman, no letter of intent had been signed; the approval of the VW supervisory board is still missing. This can only take place as soon as the engine regulations for the premier class, which will apply from 2026, have been defined - this step is still pending at the moment. The purchase sums given in Automobilwoche are also incorrect. The Reuters news agency quoted VW circles shortly beforehand, which brought a possible purchase price of around 500 million euros into play.
Quiet for a few months
Audi's possible interest in entering Formula 1 is bubbling up again after there was no further movement on the matter for a few months. An important deadline set by Formula 1 passed without - at least publicly - becoming more concrete with Volkswagen's F1 plans: Actually, manufacturers should have decided by December 15, 2021 whether they want to be there from 2026 in the premier class of the motorsports. The fact is: Audi and Porsche have talked to four teams about a possible collaboration. According to information from auto motor und sport , in addition to McLaren, these are Red Bull, Williams and Sauber.
If the British "Autocar" had had its way, Audi would have secured the entire McLaren Group in autumn 2021 in order to secure its entry into Formula 1. Their boss Mike Flewitt had just resigned at the time . In addition, the British had gotten into great financial difficulties due to the Corona crisis and were only able to save themselves from Arabia with an investment of 500 million pounds . According to the report, McLaren majority owner Bahrain had rejected an initial offer from Audi, but then accepted a higher one. An Audi spokeswoman told the Handelsblatt at the time that no decision had been made."As part of our strategic considerations, we are constantly looking at various cooperation ideas."
One denial follows the next
The McLaren Group also denied the sale: The company was "aware of a media report" stating that it had been sold to Audi. "This is entirely inaccurate and McLaren is attempting to have the story removed. While McLaren's 'technology strategy' has always included active dialogue and collaboration with relevant partners and suppliers, including other automakers." However, the ownership structure of the McLaren Group has not changed, according to the British on their website.
On the engine side, one could well imagine that Audi machines would be used in McLaren models. However, it is unclear what Audi should do with road sports cars from McLaren, since Lamborghini also belongs to the Bavarian brand. In addition, Audi's future is fully electric: in 2026, Audi wants to present its last model that still has a combustion engine. In 2033, Audis will only be powered electrically; There should only be exceptions in markets with regional peculiarities.
Are BMW and McLaren already linked?
Interest in the McLaren 720 S & Co. was also reported by BMW in an earlier report by Automobilwoche. The brands have at least one common history in the form of the iconic McLaren F1 , which sported a Munich-based V12 engine behind its three seats. That would fit with speculation about a new V8 hybrid powertrain from BMW M GmbH, to be used in both BMW's LMDh project and road vehicles.
In addition, former BMW M boss Markus Flasch announced his own M vehicle, which should have no equivalent in the regular BMW model range. There is "a segment in which there is a lot going on and in which we are not yet represented", so Flasch to auto motor und sport . If you look at the wide range of BMW M models, you might have guessed that it was a super sports car. However, we have known since the end of November: Flasch most likely meant the XM, a monster SUV with a plug-in hybrid and 750 hp, which was then presented as a near-series concept study. And conceptually, a car cannot be any further away from the still pure sports car manufacturer McLaren.
At the time, BMW simply told Reuters that the rumors about Munich's interest in McLaren were wrong. Nevertheless, the Automobilwoche brings the people of Munich back into play. Accordingly, since March 24, 2022 there has been a declaration of intent for the joint development of an electric sports car architecture. However, the agreement is not binding and could become invalid in the event of a deal with Audi.
A sports car manufacturer with a Formula 1 team in need of money and with its own combustion engines faced with the challenge of upgrading them for the demanding Euro 7 emissions standard; the VW group, which is openly toying with the idea of entering Formula 1; BMW with a planned own M model - in view of this mixed situation, rumors that assume a split from McLaren would not come as a surprise. Just like Rover once did. At that time, BMW had sold the British multi-brand group and secured the trademark rights of Mini and Rolls-Royce, while Bentley went to the VW group under Ferdinand Piëch. Today it could look like this: Audi buys the British company McLaren, gives the road sports car department to BMW and enters the top class with the Formula 1 team, while BMW supplies the road cars with engines and draws on the carbon lightweight construction expertise of the British benefited.
Nice idea? Perhaps. But none of this is confirmed. Not even the Formula 1 entry of Audi - and not that of the sister company Porsche.