McLaren confirms deal to use Mercedes F1 engines from 2021


The McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 partnership will be rekindled from 2021

The nose of a McLaren-Mercedes car, showing the logos of both companies

A winning combination in 2021? Photo: Motorsport Images

McLaren will use Mercedes engines from the 2021 Formula 1 season, after announcing a three-year deal.

The team described dropping its current engine supplier, Renault, as a “core element” of a “long-term recovery plan”.

It looks to mean that Mercedes will power four teams on the grid in 2021, while Renault engines will only be used by the factory team.

“This agreement is an important step in our long-term plan to return to success in Formula 1,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Racing’s chief executive. “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.

“This announcement reflects the confidence of our shareholders and is an important message to our investors, employees, partners and fans that we are committed to returning McLaren to the front of the field.” 

The engine deal rekindles a McLaren-Mercedes partnership that powered Mika Hakkinen to two world championships in 1998 and 1999 (when the engines were built by Ilmor), and Lewis Hamilton to his first title in 2008.

Podium celebrations t the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen

Australia 2014: McLaren’s last podium. Ricciardo would be disqualified, promoting Button to third Photo: Motorsport Images

At the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button drove their McLaren-Mercedes cars to second and third places, which is the last time that the team had drivers classified on the podium.

The Woking-based team ended its Mercedes partnership at the end of 2014, switching to Honda, which was returning to the sport. It proved ill-fated, as the underpowered and unreliable engine dropped McLaren to the back of the grid. At the same time, Mercedes asserted its dominance in the turbo-hybrid era.

After three seasons with Honda, McLaren moved to Renault engines for the 2018 season. The form and results have improved – particularly in 2019 – but both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz have endured a number of reliability issues throughout the season.

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Andreas Seidl, McLaren Racing’s team principal said: “2021 will be an important milestone for us as a team as we continue our long-term recovery plan and it is vital that we have the core elements in place now, to enable us to properly prepare for the new era of the sport.

“Renault remains both a valued partner as well as a formidable competitor, and we look forward to continuing our relationship through the rest of this season and next.” 

Mercedes said that the engine agreement would “expand” its roster of partner teams, indicating that the current supply arrangements with Racing Point and Williams, which recently signed an extension to 2025, would not change.

Mercedes powered McLarens between 1995 and 2014 Photo: Motorsport Images

“We are delighted to welcome McLaren back to the Mercedes-Benz racing family with this new power unit supply agreement,” said Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes Motorsport. “Although the two brands share a prestigious history, this new agreement is all about looking to the future and beginning a new era of power unit supply for the years ahead.

“McLaren have been putting in place the building blocks of their revival over recent seasons, including impressive performances this season with Renault power. 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.” 

This article has been updated to reflect the official engine supply announcement. Some comments below may refer to an earlier version.

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