McLaren and Mercedes have signed a four-year engine deal from 2021, that will reunite the two. The team was supplied by the five-times champions between 1995 and 2014, with many of those years the team being a works team.
The news means that McLaren’s current engine partner Renault will head into 2021 with no customers, and with the only engine used by a single team.
The three year Renault deal signed at the end of 2017 was always meant to be a “marriage of convenience”, after the Woking team decided to part ways with Honda at the conclusion of that season. With Toro Rosso and then Red Bull moving to Honda, McLaren became Renault’s sole customer this year.
It is believed that the planned closer cooperation arrangement from 2021 would have been unworkable given their closeness on track. Also, attempt both to cut costs and help both teams to make progress while competing against teams that work in partnership with others.
However, McLaren preferred to stick to a straightforward engine supply deal, and the position of the two teams as direct rivals on the track this year clearly also played a part in McLaren’s thinking. McLaren regards Mercedes as the benchmark in F1 despite recent gains.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown said, “This agreement is an important step in our long-term plan to return to success in F1. Mercedes is the benchmark, both as a team and a power unit, so it is natural we would seek to secure a relationship with the company for the next phase of our journey.”
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal added, “We hope that this new long-term agreement marks another milestone for McLaren as they aim to take the fight to the sport’s top teams, including our Mercedes works team.
Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com that he saw the loss of its sole customer as a “neutral” development, and while the company was happy to agree to a new deal, based on the close co-operation outlined above, it does not see going it alone as a negative.
McLaren’s performance has rapidly improved in 2019, the team currently leads the midfield and the change of power unit could be the next step in the challenging for wins and championships going forwards.
The team’s last podium came with Mercedes in Melbourne 2014, while their last victory was in Interlagos in 2012.
Mercedes have set the standard for the turbo-hybrid era, they spent most of the five seasons having the best performing power unit. But, while they are closing on sixth drivers and constructors, Ferrari has become a close challenger.
Mercedes recently renewed their Williams engine deal until 2025, while they also currently supply Racing Point in addition to their own world champion Brackley team.