McLaren’s future in Formula 1 was never in doubt despite needing to secure additional funding that was finally confirmed this week.
The wider McLaren Group has been facing serious financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which delivered a significant hit in terms of new car sales. The group has been evaluating a number of ways to raise capital – including selling shares in the F1 team – before this week securing a £150million ($184m) loan from the National Bank of Bahrain, where majority McLaren shareholder Mumtalakat also has a stake.
Team principal Andreas Seidl said the loan is good news but insisted that the team’s future was not at risk while the different options were explored.
“Of course, it was a tough period, but at the same time I am in permanent exchange with Zak (Brown) and I knew what was ongoing on the financial side,” Seidl said. “In the end, Paul Walsh, our chairman, together with the shareholders, was simply looking for the best possible option in terms of finding the right funding, which will not only get us through this crisis but will put us in the best possible position to be competitive in the future, so I’m very happy with the news from yesterday.
“I think also this break that we have had through the last few months… if you want to look at any positives from this crisis, there have been positive aspects as well. With all the actions we took together with the leadership of Formula 1, and the FIA, and all the other teams, coming together and putting all these changes in place now – the technical and sporting regulations – it’s something that is very positive, not just for us at McLaren, but the entirety of Formula 1 and for our fans, because we are absolutely convinced it will put us all in a much healthier financial position in the future. And for a team like McLaren, an independent team, it will also allow us to be competitive and on a level playing field on the financial side. So I’m very happy with that.
“With me and Zak having detailed knowledge of what was going on, there was never a doubt of McLaren not being on the grid next year.
“In the end, as I said before, having exchanges with Zak, he kept me up to date what is happening on the financial side, and it was finding the best option and making sure we are in the best position after this crisis. [It] was just a matter of time.”
However, Seidl admitted that some work had to be paused until McLaren worked out its financial position, and said he is now focused on getting those items – such as a new wind tunnel for the team – back up and running.
“The financial situation we were in put all the infrastructure projects on hold, and [that] didn’t help,” he said. “But as I said before, with the funding we have in place now, together with Zak, I am working flat out to get these projects restarted again as quickly as possible.
“We still need to be cautious because we still don’t know how the income will look this year, the race calendar is still something which is quite fluent and dynamic, but at the same time I am quite optimistic that we get all these projects up and running again in the future.
“Even with a delay of the regulations to 2022, which is something we were pushing for, there is still enough within the team that we have to improve that is independent of any regulations and independent of any financial situation that we have to focus on, where we simply have a gap compared to the top three teams in terms of how we work together and how we are set up as a team and the tools we are using. That is what we are focusing on, and I do not really see now that we have a major delay due to the break we had regarding our plan we had set up last year.”