By now all the teams are working and making arrangements to get ready for 2026. There are teams that build the chassis and engine in-house, such as Ferrari, Mercedes, Alpine, Sauber (Audi) and the new Red Bull thanks to the opening of the Powertrains department. Then there are teams that, instead, have found or are in talks with Case to complete their future plans.
Among them is McLaren. The Woking team has an agreement in place with Mercedes for the supply of power units until the end of 2025, but nothing written for what concerns the following year, i.e. when the new technical regulation will be introduced which will redesign cars and power units of Formula 1.
During the second part of 2022, McLaren spoke to Honda with the intention of reforming the pairing that sparked just over 30 years ago, but was a real disaster just under a decade ago. However, the Japanese manufacturer chose the ambitious project of Aston Martin Racing, so the Woking team continued to talk with Mercedes, but also by opening a negotiating table with Red Bull.
Andrea Stella, team principal of McLaren, took stock of what Woking thinks is the best way forward to be competitive at the highest levels in the new course of Formula 1 which will start in just under 3 years.
“I think there are three levels. One is, ideally, a team that can do everything from the chassis to the engine. Then there’s the core team working with an established power unit manufacturer. Then there’s the ability to “Being a client with an established builder. I think entering a new partnership comes with some elements of risk.”
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
“In 2026 we want to be present, we don’t want to say: ‘Ok, now we need years because the project is too immature’, we want to be present from the point of view of the chassis and, in a certain sense, also from the point of view of the group motor”.
“If I had to choose, I would always choose to be a team directly supported by a power unit manufacturer or build my own engine, but we don’t believe this is a key differentiator in order to win.”
According to Stella, it is not a real problem for McLaren not to be a direct engine manufacturer. Being a customer team is not necessarily a negative point, just look at what has happened in the last 13 years with the successes signed by Red Bull first with Renault and then with Honda.
“At the moment, if we consider our limits, they have nothing to do with the power unit. I think they are much more fundamental. And this is what I would like to focus on.”
“Even if I think I need to improve from an aerodynamic point of view or in the use of tires, I believe that the role of the power unit – also in terms of layout, construction and so on – is very minimal. So I remain convinced that it could be one of the last elements that could increase the differences. I don’t think it should be an excessive concern,” concluded the McLaren team principal.