It looks like Audi won't go after McLaren after all.
It's no longer a matter of speculation: Porsche and Audi have confirmed that they are interested in entering Formula 1. The rumor mill has continually been churning out stories claiming that Audi wants to work with McLaren's F1 team. But according to Reuters, money issues are causing the McLaren-Audi deal to stall, with an insider telling the outlet that "the price expectations are too far apart" and commenting that the chances of a deal being struck are now "close to zero." Fortunately, Audi has other options and was recently rumored to take over Aston Martin, producer of the Vantage F1 safety car, instead. That rumor has now been officially confirmed by the British F1 team's boss.
Aston Martin chairman Lawrence Stroll responded to a question from Bank of America on a conference call with some of the brand's investors as follows: "Have we been approached by Audi? Yes. Are we very happy with our collaboration with Mercedes? Yes. The world of Formula 1 is full of these stories."
Stroll and his new leadership team will have to think very carefully about their prospects of success in the future, as the British automaker says it intends to start developing its own powertrains for electric road cars but has access to Mercedes-AMG's new platform for next year. In addition, Mercedes has a stunning track record in F1, so losing access to its power units may be a backward move.
That being said, Aston Martin's financial woes over the past few years have been well documented and its recent earnings report showed that it is close to £1 billion (around $1.2 billion at the time of writing) in debt.
An injection of cash from Audi could help fix this issue, and the German automaker would likely be willing to invest fortunes to ensure its return to the sport is successful. Aston Martin has a great partnership with Mercedes, and the latter continually increases its stake in the former. Mercedes would likely make a bid for Aston Martin if the need to sell arose, partly to exclude its Ingolstadt-based competitor. But, and it's an important but, stranger things have happened in F1 and evolution is part of the sport; the championship-challenging Red Bull team emerged from the ashes of Jaguar F1 and ultimately partnered with Honda for many years.
Whatever the outcome, it's comforting to know that Audi is close to getting its foot in the door of the most lucrative motorsport on the planet.
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