Red Bull confirms engine talks with McLaren

McLaren and Red Bull officials have admitted they got together recently to discuss Formula 1 engines.

Last year, McLaren supremo Zak Brown caused uproar when he wrote a letter openly accusing Red Bull of “cheating” by breaching the budget cap.

But suddenly, in a new open letter, the American is backtracking.

“While it was disappointing to see breaches of the cap last year,” he wrote, “everyone involved has learned from the process and it’s important to see the sport is moving forward in this regard.”

It appears that at least part of the reason for the u-turn is because Mercedes-powered McLaren is on the market for a new engine supplier for 2026 and beyond.

Just days ago, rumours emerged that Brown had visited the new Red Bull Powertrains subsidiary in Milton Keynes. By 2026, the energy drink-owned outfit will be officially collaborating in Formula 1 with Ford.

“I thought he was coming for lunch,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner laughed when asked about rumours of Zak Brown’s visit.

“It’s inevitable that, as a power unit manufacturer for 2026, discussions are going to be held regarding potential powertrain supply. It’s only natural that we would speak with potential customers,” he said.

New McLaren team principal Andrea Stella also confirmed the news, despite insisting the Woking based team already has a “solid partnership” with Mercedes.

“At the same time, it’s obvious that looking far forward, you want to understand what’s available. So, I think that’s natural and shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.”

However, McLaren has much bigger current concerns than 2026 engine supply – with Lando Norris admitting the 2023 car is a long way off the pace.

“We need a lot more. It’s not just small things,” said the Briton.

“We need some bigger things and it will take a long time to achieve. If we want to be a top team, we have to start the season better.”

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