One might argue that of the teams that currently make up the Formula 1 grid, McLaren has the most in common with Williams Racing.
Despite being founded by Kiwi Bruce McLaren in 1966, the team that came to intermittently dominate Formula 1 in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s really emerged in 1982 when then owner Teddy Meyer, who’d taken over the team when McLaren was killed testing in 1970 was convinced to merge his F1 outfit with Ron Dennis’ Project Four F2 Team.
Dennis brought with him designer John Barnard, and together they, and McLaren, ushered in a new era in F1 with the revolutionary concept of car built from carbon fibre, as Teddy Meyer & Tyler Alexander were ushered out, giving Dennis total control.
After decades competing for wins and titles, McLaren’s form took a nosedive in the 2010s, and they’ve struggled of late to compete in the new engine-first, manufacturer dominated F1 of the last half dozen years, despite a new management headed by Zak Brown.
McLaren are and always have been constructors – a team who builds its own car, but relies on an engine supplier to provide the power. They are independent of any manufacturer, and have enough self belief and determination to think that they can and should be able to succeed in F1 as such.
An independent British constructor that emerged in the late 1970s/early 80s? Periods of dominance in the 1980s and 1990s? F1 pioneers, that have struggled of late? Sound familiar??
With so much in common it’s not too surprising that the Williams Racing & McLaren teams find themselves in a similar position as a result of F1’s COVID-19 prompted inactivity.
Like Williams, it would appear that McLaren are seeking investment for their Formula 1 operation in exchange for a stake in the team. Unlike Williams however, they don’t seem to be open to (or have yet to get to the point where they need to consider) the possibility of someone purchasing the team outright.
Of course, they’ve dressed it up as being an injection of cash to allow them to compete with the top three, but that would seem unlikely on the brink of a cost cap that would allow teams to complete with a much smaller budget and with McLaren about to make 1200 people redundant across the group.
These are tough times for Formula 1 teams (they were tough before the COVID outbreak!), especially those without a bottomless pit of money like Williams and McLaren, and it would seem that they’re exploring all options available to them that might secure their futures.