McLaren’s drama with finding a quality Formula One engine partner may just be enough to convince them to make their own engine if the price is right, reports Motorsport.com. While they’re hoping to switch from their dud Honda engines to Renault units in the meantime, new F1 regulations are coming in 2021, and who knows what they’ll look like then.
McLaren executive director Zak Brown told Motorsport.com that the changes to F1's engines could be greater than anyone thinks:
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.
So right now we’ve got to focus on the next three years and, as soon as we get that figured out, then yeah, of course we’ve got to look.
I think the landscape in Formula 1 is going to change in a very positive way from ‘21 onwards, with budget caps, revenue redistribution, and new engine rules. So it’s a little hard to take any decisions on ‘21 with so many things that will change.
Obviously, it’s clear that Brown is just spitballing ideas he thinks are cool at the moment, as no one really knows what the 2021 regulations will look like right now.
Still, if it’s financially feasible for McLaren to go into the engine business, why wouldn’t they? They make sports cars for the road now, so they’re not completely out of the engine building business.
But F1 engine programs are expensive and hard to develop, as they’ve no doubt heard (ad nauseum) from Honda. Brown realizes this and told Motorsport.com that any switch to a homegrown McLaren engine would have to have plenty of lead time and major financial changes both to the engines’ cost as well as the series’ distribution of revenue to its teams.
Ultimately, Brown’s preference would be for an independent constructor that wasn’t running its own team to come into F1 with reasonably priced engines instead. As it is now, no engine maker really wants to put their own works team’s results at risk by offering an otherwise competitive team like McLaren (or Red Bull, for that matter) a competitive engine.
Last time, Cosworth was the independent engine supplier for F1, but they fell out of favor when they weren’t competitive. Maybe this is where Porsche can come in, especially since their most competitive period was when they were supplying McLaren with engines.