Although McLaren on Monday issued a statement denying recent reports that it had been sold to Audi, a potential tie-up between the two companies hasn't been ruled out.
Citing two sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported on Wednesday that a tie-up with McLaren was discussed by Audi at its most recent board meeting.
Furthermore, Audi's decision will ultimately lie on whether Formula One proceeds with a plan to introduce synthetic fuels by 2026, as well as progress made by McLaren in electrifying its supercars, one of the sources told Reuters.
When contacted, Audi told Reuters that it remains open to cooperation opportunities, but didn't mention a specific partner.
BMW was also named in those earlier reports as being interested in McLaren's supercar division, with Audi focusing on the McLaren F1 team only, though BMW in a statement to Reuters denied any interest in McLaren's supercar division.
2022 Audi R8
McLaren, which is majority owned by the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain, has been struggling financially since the start of the pandemic. The company has fired staff and sold off key assets, including its famous Woking headquarters and McLaren Applied technology business, plus a stake in the F1 team. McLaren has also taken on additional investment from the governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
At the same time, there has been plenty of noise about Audi's Volkswagen Group parent looking to enter F1, albeit as a power unit supplier only. New power unit rules to be introduced by F1 in 2026 is expected to make it easier for additional power unit suppliers to enter the sport, with VW Group reportedly keen on both Audi and Porsche entering.
According to previous reports, VW Group has had exploratory talks with Red Bull Racing, McLaren and Williams about potential power unit deals.
McLaren currently uses a power unit from Mercedes-Benz AMG, but the team already has a connection with VW Group. Current Team Principal Andreas Seidl was previously head of Porsche's motorsport division and ran the automaker's successful LMP1 program in the World Endurance Championship. We should also point out that current F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali was previously head of VW Group's Lamborghini brand.
Should any deal happen down the road, there will also be synergies between McLaren's supercar division and the various supercar brands at VW Group. The list includes Bugatti, Lamborghini and Porsche.