McLaren, one of the most storied names in racing, is about to be sold for parts, if a new report is to be believed. There were a few indications that the report may not be entirely accurate, however, with BMW saying that it was “wrong.”
The report is from Automobilwoche, which is owned by Automotive News’ parent company Crain Communications, lending it some credibility. It follows McLaren’s CEO quitting a few weeks ago, which suggested that ... something is going on at McLaren.
Via Google Translate from Automobilwoche, whose report is a little vague:
According to information from Automobilwoche, Audi and BMW are interested in the British company McLaren. While the Munich-based company probably only deals with the sports car division McLaren Cars, Audi is also targeting the Formula 1 division.
This is the starting position before the decisive discussions with the McLaren main shareholder and other representatives of the capital side. The Bahrain state fund Mumtalakat holds around 42 percent of the British sports car manufacturer.
The first appointment with BMW and the sheikhs is to take place at the beginning of December, according to information from the automobile week in Woking.
The BMW-McLaren connection goes back to the time when Markus Duesmann was responsible for the BMW-Sauber Formula 1 team and Herbert Diess was BMW Board Member for Development. The plans, which Diess’s successor Klaus Frï¿½hlich pushed forward, to put a power hybrid sports car on the wheels together with the British, were only stopped at the last minute by Norbert Reithofer and Oliver Zipse. But the contacts continued in the background.
So: Audi wants McLaren’s middling Formula 1 team, while BMW wants the supercar division, according to this report, which would be an anticlimactic end for an automaker for whom Lewis Hamilton won an F1 title as recently as 2008.
The only problem with all of this is that seemingly everyone is denying it. Here is McLaren itself, misstating the Automobilwoche report a little:
And here is BMW and Audi, via Automotive News:
A BMW spokesman said that the Automobilwoche article is “wrong.”
Audi told Reuters that it regularly considers different cooperation opportunities but it did not comment on the specific case of McLaren.
Autocar, citing a source, also said that Audi bought McLaren before walking that back a little. I remain confused what is actually happening, but all of this makes me pretty sure that there were talks, at least, and those talks are probably ongoing. What is probably in the works here is some kind of partnership or partnerships, if not a sale.
Still, what I can say for sure is that it would not be surprising if McLaren was sold, given that the supercar business is a tough one and McLaren has been in distress for some time and also Volkswagen sold off Bugatti and also Lamborghini may or may not be for sale.
It seems like a great time, in other words, to be in the relatable position of being in the market for a supercar company.