Neale: McLaren sticking with Merc

Date published: September 21 2011

McLaren’s Jonathan Neale says the team hope to continue their engine partnership with Mercedes-Benz “for many years to come”…

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says the Woking squad hope to continue their engine partnership with Mercedes-Benz “for many years to come”.

Mercedes has supplied McLaren with power units since 1995 and the two parties signed a new deal in November 2009 that will see the co-operation continue until at least 2015. The deal means they will be in collaboration when the new engine regulations, which will see F1 switch from V8s to 1.6-litre V6 turbo units, come into effect in 2014.

There are fears that McLaren could be left behind as Red Bull and their engine partner Renault have promised to work closely together to develop a competitive engine for 2014.

Neale, though, played down suggestions that the two parties are not enjoying a close relationship.

“I can give a cast-iron guarantee that it is our intention to stay with Mercedes-Benz and these engines as we transition between here to the next generation of engines,” he said during a Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes phone-in on Wednesday. “They are our engine partner, we very much like working with them and want to do so for many years to come.”

He added: “The assumption that we’re not working as closely with Mercedes is incorrect. We’ve had a long relationship with Mercedes-Benz High-Performance Engines at Brixworth, we know the guys up there very well and we’re a good team together. I think certainly we expect, and we are, working very closely with them ahead of 2014. Our job, as theirs is, is to make sure Mercedes-Benz has the best engine on the grid and is best prepared and most ready [for 2014]. I don’t feel in any way that we are being disadvantaged or held at arm’s length.

“I think sometimes when people look at the McLaren Group as a whole and look at the way the road car platform is developing, then I think in that domain of course there are lots of what-ifs and maybes and how its powertrain is going to develop there going forward. But we shouldn’t confuse that with what’s going on with the engine programme [at the F1 team]. Our focus is very much around our engine partners Mercedes-Benz, who do a first-class job for us and we expect to be an intimate and high-performance partner with them.”