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McLaren would consider making own F1 engine depending on 2021 regs

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McLaren would consider making its own Formula 1 engine should the new technical regulations set to come into force for 2021 prove attractive and cost-effective enough.

McLaren is currently nearing the end of a long-running saga surrounding its power unit supply for 2018, with a complex web involving a number of parties looking set to be unraveled by switching from Honda to Renault engines next season.

Any deal is set to be agreed for three years, with the existing engine cycle using V6 turbo power units set to come to an end at the close of the 2020 season.

Talks regarding F1’s future engine regulations are ongoing between a number of parties both inside and outside of the sport, with areas of focus including cost reduction and greater simplicity.

Should the new regulations fit the bill, McLaren would consider becoming a full works F1 operation and developing its own engine in-house.

“We’re interested to see what the new engine formula is in 2021, whether we’d consider doing our own engine, whether other people would come in under new rules,” McLaren executive director Zak Brown told media at Monza, as quoted by Crash.net.

“I think right now we’ve got to focus on the next three years. As soon as we get that figured out, we’ve got to look out.

“For us to do our own engine, that’s not something we’ve done before, so that would require good lead time and some expenditure that we would consider doing.

“We just need to have an understanding of the path forward, what are the rules and what are they going to cost. We certainly wouldn’t be in a position to spend the hundreds of millions that it takes now to develop engines.

“So they’re going to have to change the engine formula for it to be something that is economically viable for us.”

F1 aggressive on COVID-19 testing, social distancing enforcement

F1 COVID-19 testing
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With big hugs and wide smiles, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown exuberantly celebrated the first podium finish of Lando Norris’ Formula One career. His exuberance earned a warning from Formula One and FIA officials during the era of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent F1 testing.

“Obviously I got excited with Lando on the podium and embraced him after the race,” Brown said with a laugh during a news conference Friday. “You get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the event, but it was suggested maybe I don’t do that again if we get a podium anytime soon.”

MASK WARNING: NASCAR tells teams to avoid ‘complacency’

Now in its second race weekend of 2020, F1 has taken an aggressive approach to maintain a paddock free of COVID-19. Before teams hit the track last week for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, F1 and FIA officials said more than 4,000 tests were conducted over a week with no positive tests.

In order to enter the track, any F1 personnel (which includes drivers and team members) must have a negative COVID-19 test. Private testing was used ahead of those traveling to Austria. After entering the track, personnel are tested every five days with private medical teams at events along with extra screening.

The results of F1 COVID-19 testing also will be made public every seven days. More than 8,000 tests were conducted through Saturday.

It’s a much different tack from NASCAR and IndyCar, neither of which is conducting COVID-19 testing (and with NASCAR recently distributing that warned teams of “complacency with protocols).

Though Brown, who also oversees Arrow McLaren SP Motorsports in IndyCar, demurred when asked whether the U.S.-based series should be taking a cue, he praised F1 COVID-19 testing for being a best-in-class example.

“I don’t know exactly what every other racing series is doing, so it would be difficult for me to say they’re doing it right or wrong,” Brown said from Austria. “All I can really do is speak to what Formula One is doing, and they’re doing an unbelievable job with 5,000 tests, and people flying in from different parts of the world. The minute that someone — and there’s not been many instances – has taken a mask off, you’re getting a letter or a phone call saying put your mask back on.

“I think all sports should be looking at all sports and seeing who’s doing what and what are our best practices, but I’ve got nothing but great things to say about how the FIA and Formula One and the countries they’re racing in are executing because it feels extremely safe here.”

Brown said it’s unlikely the European-based circuit will do F1 COVID-19 testing at races in the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Canada because the events likely will be scrubbed. Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, was scheduled to play host to F1 on the Oct. 23-25 race weekend but just canceled its MotoGP race.

“We’d very much like to race at all those circuits,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, my opinion is it’s probably unlikely we’ll race at any of those venues this year. That’s obviously due to the COVID situation. … Let’s see what happens, but certainly it seems like the spikes in Texas are pretty severe and Brazil and Mexico and Canada a little less so. But if we miss them this year, we certainly look forward to going back to those venues next year.”