So which engine will McLaren use next?

November 20, 2009

Could we see the McLaren and Cosworth names together again?

The general view of the knowledgeable F1 press appears to be that the relationship between McLaren and Mercedes has totally broken down, and that Mercedes will be unlikely to remain their engine supplier for much longer, certainly not until 2015 as their revised agreement states.

So if McLaren do switch engine suppliers who would they go to? Well Cosworth could be a short term solution, particularly if their power unit is competitive, which early indications suggest will be the case. The 2009 Brawn demonstrated that you can still create a competitive car with a relatively late change of engine supplier. McLaren did use Cosworth engines at one time – James Hunt won the 1976 World Championship with a Cosworth powered McLaren, but in the post 1980 Ron Dennis team they have tended to do their own exclusive engine deals such as that with Porsche (badged as TAG turbo), Honda, Peugeot and Mercedes. There are of course other potential sources such as acquiring the Toyota and BMW designs (which are reputedly up for sale at the right price) and making them their own – this would be a big step and considering they are now buying back the 40% Mercedes shareholding it is unlikely that they would want to be extending their finances in this way, although it would be in keeping with their aspirations to build a distinctive McLaren brand to mirror Ferrari. Other options could be Renault, depending on what decisions emanate from Paris over the next few weeks. I have already posted that Red Bull could do a badging deal with Renault to take over their engine operation, so presumably McLaren could do the same, but again this could require extended funding at a difficult time. I think that the one option that can safely be discarded is Ferrari, McLaren are a proud team and even pragmatism has its limits.

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