Remember when Volkswagen was so ashamed of shaving 45,000 years off our collective lives that it ditched motorsport altogether and embarked on an EV-obsessed PR campaign? That guilt evidently lasted all of six years. As has been reported in recent months, two of the conglomerate’s premium brands — Porsche and Audi — are eyeing tie-ups with established Formula 1 teams to edge their way into the sport.
Audi’s deal with McLaren is reportedly nearing completion, as the German marque has upped its offer to the British supercar maker according to Bloomberg via Automobilwoche. Both parties seem satisfied with it.
The original proposal of 450 million euros has been significantly raised to 650 million, the report reads. To clarify this is exclusively for the F1 team — for now, anyway. Getting into F1 is what this is really about for Audi, and anything on top of that, like buying McLaren’s production car business down the line, is gravy. Courtesy of Bloomberg:
The idea is to take a stake in McLaren’s Formula 1 unit, while an investment in the sports car maker itself could happen in a second step, 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.
The German car manufacturer’s interest in McLaren first emerged late last year. Volkswagen AG’s premium brand had previously floated the idea of acquiring McLaren as a way to gain access to the Formula 1 business, but McLaren deemed the offer as too low, Bloomberg reported at the time.
A small concern, yet one still worth noting, is that a sale of the road car operation to Audi will surely compromise McLaren’s verbal agreement with BMW to co-develop an EV performance architecture. Audi has one of those already and more on the way, some of which just so happened to have been designed in collaboration with Porsche.
From the outside, McLaren joining the Volkswagen family would seem to be a bit awkward for Porsche, a rival of McLaren’s on the circuit and road. Then again, Lamborghini already belongs to the fold. As long as everyone keeps making money, which they most definitely will, things will probably stay peachy for all parties involved. Except for BMW, I suppose, whose every potential partner is being snapped up by the Volkswagen Group colossus.
Meanwhile, Porsche’s ongoing affair with Red Bull didn’t produce that announcement that had been teased last month. Ultimately Porsche and Audi’s moves have been prompted by F1's next engine regulations, and those won’t take effect until 2026. In other words there’s still plenty of time for both manufacturers to stretch this saga out even longer than they already have. Buckle up.