2020 has been really tough on the McLaren brand, both on the track and on the road. After the F1 season was delayed and then eventually run without fans in the stands for most of the season, the team was reeling with lots of development costs and no payoffs. Then, on the supercar production side of the business, demand tanked. The company survived by laying off 1200 employees in May, followed by a $200 million loan from the National Bank of Bahrain. McLaren floated the idea of selling a portion of the race team in June, as well as its headquarters in September. Dire straits all around.
On Sunday the Papaya Orange McLaren Racing organization announced that it was receiving a substantial injection of capital through the sale of a 15 percent stake to MSP Sports Capital. The initial investment of around $247 million will give MSP immediate ownership of 15 percent of the Formula 1 team, as well as a portion of the company’s IndyCar operations. At the end of the 2022 season, MSP’s ownership will expand to a maximum of 33 percent. Post-investment McLaren is valued at $746 million.
Allegedly McLaren CEO Zak Brown will remain onboard, as well as his current leadership team for the brand. As part of the deal, MSP will appoint Jeff Moorad and Rodrigo Trelles Zabala to the McLaren board. Moorad is a former owner of NASCAR Cup team Hall of Fame Racing.
This weekend in Abu Dhabi McLaren put in a really good showing, and netted third in the constructors championship, which will get them a huge boost in F1-related income. In payments received ahead of the 2019 season, the third placed constructor Red Bull took home 81 million in prize money, while the fourth placed constructor Renault received just 73 million. By outscoring Racing Point in Abu Dhabi, McLaren could have won an extra 8 million dollars!
Add in that the sport is instituting a spending cap for the 2021 season prohibiting teams from running the season at a cost of more than $145 million next year. Considering McLaren’s 2019 budget was allegedly over $250 million, that’ll be a substantial boon to the British F1 team. Hopefully with a cash injection, lower costs, and a clearly improving car (plus the incoming media savvy Daniel Ricciardo to drive the car vacated by Carlos Sainz) McLaren will have a much more prosperous 2021 season.