Automotive news outlet, Autocar, broke the internet with reports that McLaren was acquired by Audi citing an anonymous source. The report was a follow up from a post by Germany’s Automobilewoche which claimed that Audi was interested in McLaren’s successful F1 team and BMW was keen on their supercar division.
After the report of the purchase went viral, McLaren Group, which is currently owned by the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain denied the claims. BMW did the same too via a statement to Reuters which denied their interest in the McLaren supercar division. Interestingly Audi made a statement to the same media outlet which stated that they remain “open to cooperation opportunities” but they didn’t mentioning a specific partner.
There are several reasons why the reports of McLaren being acquired were very believable, firstly, the company has been struggling financially since the start of the pandemic. It has fired staff and sold off assets including the McLaren Applied Technology business and even its headquarters which it then leased back. The company has also sold a stake of their F1 team and taken in additional investments from the Bahrain and Saudi Arabia governments. Moreover, McLaren’s CEO Mike Flewitt already announced his departure last month.
Secondly, Audi’s parent company, the Volkswagen Group, has been keen on getting into the F1 as a power unit supplier. Volkswagen Group has plans for Audi and Porsche – which it also owns – to get into the F1 action. Currently, the only window the car giant has with the sport is in 2026 when the F1 will introduce new rules that will make it easier for new power unit suppliers to get in.
A deal between the two companies would have benefited from the synergies between McLaren’s supercar division and other supercar brands under the Volkswagen group which include Lamborghini, Bugatti, Rimac and Porsche.