Rumor: Audi eyes buying into McLaren, but Stroll could sell team to Audi instead (5th Update)

Autosport sources have indicated that the chances of a deal between Audi and McLaren appear to be fading.

With Audi wanting to take ownership of a team rather than just be engine supplier, it has been suggested that the option of a McLaren takeover may be too expensive and not something that the Woking-based team is especially eager for.

That has opened the door for other opportunities, with speculation suggesting that Aston Martin could now be in the frame for an Audi partnership.

Sources have suggested that talks have already taken place, and the opportunity of an Audi buyout could offer an alternative long-term plan for Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll, whose outfit has failed to make progress in F1 since its rebranding last year.

April 6, 2022 

According to CAR Magazine, The latest intel suggests that Audi has contacted Mumtalakat, the Bahranian government’s sovereign wealth fund, and initially offered €450m to buy McLaren’s F1 division. But that sum has since increased to around €650m in order for the German brand to get access to the biggest motorsport in the business. The Bahranian state holding is said to have four weeks to reply to the offer.

According to CAR’s sources, the plan is now for Audi to team up with the McLaren motorsport division and also take over Woking’s automotive arm. It’ll be a one all-in parcel, racing and automotive, lock, stock and barrel. CAR understands the diligence phase has not yet begun, but the lawyers of both parties are already talking, and the main stakeholders – among them the Mumtalakat Holding Company from the Middle East – are allegedly willing to sell the loss-making car business.

The new drivetrain is reportedly a joint effort by Audi Sport and Porsche Motorsport. Although the VW side had favored an ultra high-performance 2.0litre four which was from the very beginning part of the so-called world engine project, the FIA opted for the 1.6litre V6 turbo which was a precondition for Ferrari to stay in F1.

Fed by sustainable fuels and devoid of the capricious MGU-H energy regeneration system, the combustion engine will in the future be supported by 475bhp of e-power –  about triple the current output.

According to those in the know, Audi is bidding for McLaren Cars and for the F1 unit, said to be worth around £1 billion. Jörg Astalosch, 49, is the designated chief liaison officer in the Audi-McLaren talks. Previously in charge of Ital Design (also an Audi satellite), the former confidant of VW Group supremo Ferdinand Piech started his new job in October.

McLaren has suffered a torrid time due to Covid-19. The Automotive division recorded a £222.9million operating loss in 2020, a swing from £91.1m profit in 2019. Last year, sales crashed by 64 per cent to 1659 cars.

McLaren had to make some 830 redundancies. And the group has been involved in a critical refinancing, selling the Woking HQ and leasing it back, and issuing £550m of new shares to provide liquidity and pay off a £150m loan.   CAR Magazine

April 3, 2022 

This rumor is upgraded to ‘strong’ today.

Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand raised its offer to buy into the McLaren F1 team to $718 million from $500 million, according to a report by the Germany’s Automobilwoche.

The idea is to take a stake in McLaren’s Formula 1 unit, while an investment in the passenger car side of the business could happen in a following deal, Automobilwoche reported, without saying how it obtained the information. The two parties plan to sign a letter of intent on Monday and Volkswagen’s supervisory board will discuss the matter later this month, according to the publication.

Automobilwoche also reported the likelihood that Porsche will soon strike a deal with the Red Bull team.

March 9, 2022 

Audi’s planned LMDh effort has been paused in the wake of the German manufacturer’s likely entry into Formula 1.

An Audi spokesperson has confirmed to Sportscar365 that it has “stopped the program for the next 2-3 months” although has failed to acknowledge the reasons behind the halting of development.

It comes after an initial chassis allocation by Multimatic, which was set to partner with Audi alongside Porsche’s LMDh car that has already begun on-track testing.

Multiple industry sources have indicated to Sportscar365 that Audi’s LMDh program, which was set to feature a factory supported effort with Team WRT in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the allocation of customer cars in both WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, has been called off entirely.

November 15, 2021 

McLaren Group Statement:

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.

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.

November 15, 2021 

McLaren has denied being bought by Audi, after an Autocar source reported that the German manufacturer had acquired the whole group to secure it an entry into Formula 1.

In a statement, the brand said the story was “wholly inaccurate”, adding: “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.”

An Audi spokesperson had no official comment to add at this stage, but Reuters reported yesterday that Audi was “open to cooperation opportunities”. Earlier reports that BMW was interested in the Woking brand were subsequently dismissed by the Munich firm.

McLaren has been operating under heavy financial pressures despite an injection of capital late last year following a refinancing worth up to £500 million. McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt stepped down from his role after eight years last month.

A McLaren takeover would have given Audi access to another supercar brand alongside Lamborghini, which it controls. It would also have opened up the possibility of Audi engines powering McLaren. It would not, however, give Audi control of McLaren Applied, the arm of the group that specializes in electrification systems for both road and track, as that was sold to a private investment group earlier this year.


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