McLaren May Build its Own Engines After 2021 Regulation Changes

Could the team leave its powerplant issues in the past by going it alone?

The majority of McLaren’s problems in F1 this year can be traced back to one root cause: the team’s Honda-supplied engine. That powerplant has caused countless headaches with star driver Fernando Alonso, not to mention the never ending frustrations on Sundays, and reports say that McLaren are looking for a way out. Amidst the scramble of looking for a new engine partner for next season, news out of Woking reveals that the team could be looking for just a temporary fix, as it may start building its own engines in 2021.

McLaren boss Zak Brown noted the refreshed engine regulations could be reason enough reason for McLaren to make the move. It’s believed that those new rules and guidelines will help significantly reduce costs for manufacturers, therefore ending its current struggles and leaving it up to the R&D department to make things right.

“I think the landscape in Formula 1 is going to change in a very positive way from ’21 onwards, with budget caps, revenue redistribution, and new engine rules,” Brown explained to the press at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. “So it’s a little hard to take any decisions on ’21 with so many things that will change.”

“We’re interested to see what the new engine formula is in 2021 – and whether we consider doing our own engine, or whether other people would come in under new rules,” said Brown.

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He mentioned that this would be a first for the team, and in order to make the investment, it would need more information on the regulation changes. After all, teams like Mercedes currently spend more than $14 million annually on engine building alone—not to mention development—according to team boss Toto Wolff. That’s enough to make Brown think twice, says the crew chief.

“We’d consider doing it. We just need to have an understanding of the platform, what are the rules, and what is it going to cost.

“We certainly wouldn’t be in a position to spend the hundreds of millions that it takes now to develop engines, so they’re going to have to change the engine formula for it to be something that economically would be viable for us.”

Until then, McLaren is currently stuck in the situation of trying to find a go-to developer come 2018. Rumors say that Brown actually signed a deal with Renault just last week for next season, but the team is yet to confirm or deny. With so much riding on McLaren’s decision, expect brand officials to be making moves as quickly as they can to help settle the dust around their relationship with Honda.