Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

McLaren not getting preoccupied over 2026 F1 engine talks

McLaren insists it is not getting preoccupied over an engine partner for 2026, as it remains convinced it can return to the front of Formula 1 as a customer squad.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

While rivals outfits like Aston Martin have hailed the significance of a works partnership from the next rules cycles in 2026, McLaren thinks there are bigger influences on performance than the power unit. 

That is why, for McLaren boss Andrea Stella, the bigger effort right now needs to be on addressing the elements that have much more of a say in the speed of its car. 

“If we look at our limitations, they have nothing to do with the power unit,” said Stella. “I think they are much more fundamental, and that's where I would like to keep the focus.  

“Even when I think about having to improve from an aerodynamic point of view, or having to improve from a tyre point of view, I think the role of the power unit, even in terms of layout, and construction and so on, is really small.  

“I remain convinced that it could be one of the final incremental elements of differentiation. But I don't think that should be too much of a preoccupation.” 

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

McLaren has said it is in advanced talks with Mercedes about continuing its customer relationship with the German manufacturer beyond the end of 2025. 

And while Stella concedes there are some advantages to be had in being a full works effort, the differences are not as great as some have made out. 

“Ideally you are a works team, but with an established power unit manufacturer,” he said.

“Then there's being a customer with an established [manufacturer], or joining a new partnership, but it comes with some elements of risk.

“In 2026 we want to be there [at the front]. We don't want to be saying: 'Okay, now we need more years because the project is too immature.'

“We want to be there from a chassis point of view, and sound from a power unit point of view. I would always choose to be a works team, but I don't feel this is a fundamental differentiator to be able to win.” 

Read Also:

As part of McLaren’s efforts to ramp up its performance, Stella has implemented a new technical structure at the team, which has three heads all feeding their input in over the design of the car.

At the start of next year, Rob Marshall will lead the engineering and design elements, Peter Prodromou will be in charge of aerodynamics and David Sanchez will lead concept.

Stella is convinced that it is the right system for the team to turn around its recent competitive struggles.

“I think this configuration is strong, because it's not about who makes decisions, it's much more about how can we generate competitive ideas to bring to the table,” he said.

“What McLaren has been missing is not who makes decisions. It was more about, can we bring to the table competitive ideas to make a quick car? That's where we have struggled.

“We think this organisation addresses this. And ultimately, this organisation is not dissimilar from a conceptual point of view from what happens in other teams. It pretty much is the way how Red Bull operate, for instance.”

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Red Bull warns of “race to the bottom” with salaries under F1 cost cap
Next article Vettel to return to Red Bull F1 cockpit for Nordschleife run

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe