After all the bustle and hustle around McLaren moving from Honda to Renault one thing has been over looked in all this and no it is not Fernando Alonso’s contract for once.
No it is the ever growing possibility of McLaren becoming a fully fledged manufacturer in its own right from 2021. It is widely known that the engine regulations are due for re fresh from 2021 and that discussions are ongoing right now around this. McLaren’s own CEO and executive director of McLaren Technology Group Zak Brown has even hinted at this before in interviews.
“We’re interested to see what the new engine formula is in 2021 – and whether we consider doing our own engine, or whether other people would come in under new rules,” said Brown.
“I think right now we’ve got to focus on the next three years and as soon as we get that figured out, we’ve got to look out (longer term).
“But I think the landscape in Formula One is going to change in a very positive way from 2021 onwards with budget caps and revenue redistribution and new engine rules.”
Yesterday it was announced that McLaren will split from its current supplier of Honda and take up Renault power in a move that has been a long time coming and much expected. Now that the dust is settling on this the team is thought to be looking ahead to the future. Some even think the decision has already been made and that the deal with Renault has been set in such a way to ensure they can leave the French company in time for 2021 to follow this new venture.
It is believed that those at the head of McLaren Technology Group, including Mansour Ojjeh (part owner of TAG Group and long time shareholder in McLaren) and the executive Chairman Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa (the 1st King of Bahrain), are pushing for the team to go down the own engine route and are ready to back it up with a substantial bankroll. The company already makes its own road car engines, albeit through engine specialists Ricardo, but it would make sense to have the F1 team incorporate this technology as well and do its own race engine and thus help to further enhance the McLaren brand as a whole.
The downside of this of course is if there is issues, there would be nowhere to hide for the team with everything in-house, no ability to blame a third part engine supplier for poor performance and reliability, something that Alonso especially has been seen to do often within the last three years of Honda power. This was famously brought many radio messages around the power unit including ‘GP2 engine’ at Suzuka, a track owned by Honda themselves.
It is believed that the decision has already been made and that on goings behind the scenes have already seen the processes being put into place to accommodate the upcoming changes. with just an official announcement required from the team to confirm. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen but the possibility of McLaren joining Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault as full on manufacturer teams is an appealing one for many motor sport fans.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports F1