McLaren F1 have flagged that they, like the Williams F1 team, are looking to sell off a partial stake in the team. The early indications are that it’s an exploratory move with figures of no more than 30% being rumoured, and the intent is to add extra funds to the team’s bottom line. From there it would enable McLaren to be, in their eyes, more competitive against Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari and Red Bull.
The timing of this is important; the season is due for a restart within weeks, planning for the 2021 season needs to factor in the critical question of finances, and with a cost cap being placed upon all teams that will drop by ten million over two years, it makes sense for the future. And then there’s the consideration of the powerplant that McLaren will use from 2021. That comes from Mercedes and should be well suited to the team’s desire to challenge in 2021.
Funds wise, it’s a positive move. Positive in the sense that it’s an upwards move towards the cost cap of US$145 million for 2021. The leading three teams have to reduce their expenditure, and so in essence, it’s a negative move for them. Another consideration is the revenue each team receives from the F1 commercial rights holder organization. With a reduced season, and with the growing possibility of further races being cancelled, each team’s share is going to be reducing for 2020.
Rumours have been circulating since the Williams announcement that Michael Latifi, the father of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, may invest in Williams. McLaren, however, has him as a shareholder, along with Bahrain’s Mumtalakat holding company. There are also the shares held by Mansour Ojjeh, the head of the TAG Group. The question would be if Latifi would invest in Williams or both, and if to do so would that be a conflict of interest in respect to his son’s involvement.
Given the forthcoming 30 months, including the changes to the technical regs (postponed to 2022), this restructure allows a planning to explore the potential of the chassis and engine, plus the new drivers from 2021. Former driver Mark Webber agrees that the move is a good one. “I think it’s all upside for them. I don’t see any downside for McLaren if they can get through this tough time. Their main lap time must get closer to the pole position,” said Webber. “So with the Mercedes engine, I think the independent teams, especially McLaren, are going to do pretty well out of this new stuff going forward.”
The restructure isn’t entirely pain-free though. It’s said that around 1,200 existing McLaren staff, with virtually all of them outside of the F1 team, will be moving on. “Due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the new Formula 1 cost cap to be introduced for the 2021 season, luxury automotive, motorsport and technology company McLaren Group has commenced a proposed restructure programme as part of a wider business plan to ensure its long-term future success,” the company announced in a statement. “Subject to employee consultation, the proposed restructure is expected to result in around 1,200 redundancies across the Group’s Applied, Automotive, and Racing businesses, as well as support and back-office functions.”