Richards Nearing McLaren Pact
Topics: Prodrive, McLaren
August 23, 2007
Dave Richards is reportedly approaching a deal with McLaren Mercedes which will see his team receive customer cars from the esteemed Formula One team.
Richards' Prodrive company has been linked with the McLaren team. As reported by The Times, the Woking team on the verge of signing a deal to supply cars and engines to Richards' outfit.
Richards’ officially unnamed team, which was granted entry to the 2008 F1 World Championship under the name of 'Prodrive,’ is set to save millions by purchasing McLaren's chassis and Mercedes powerplants. According the newspaper, the former BAR team principal will set up his team for £30 million, thanks to the deal with McLaren. The Woking team's annual outlay on research, development and manufacturing is reckoned to be in the region £180 million a year.
“The McLaren deal would be the first full-blown supply of up-to-date cars to an independent rival, effectively creating a McLaren second team. Some sponsors who have been unable to join the McLaren roster this year are thought to be interested in switching to Richards's operation,” The Times continued.
Richards, who also run the Aston Martin car company, previously owned by the Ford Motor Co., confirmed that he may strike a deal with the team. "McLaren is one of three possible options for us, but they are closest. We will not be able to make an announcement until next month but talks are progressing very well and we will be on the Formula One grid in 2008," said Richards.
In Formula One, the highest auto racing competition, customer cars are a controversial issue. Earlier this year Williams objected to Red Bull Racing supplying chassis and components to Toro Rosso, Planet-F1 reported. Sir Frank Williams has publicly objected to teams providing customer cars and parts, but with the exorbitant costs involved in setting up a Formula One racing team, striking a deal with a bigger manufacturer is the only way for independent owners to break into the sport.
Moreover, it is expected that Richards will be facing tougher opposition from the likes of Williams. Also, he will be confronted with overwhelming legal issues. But Richards said that he is confident that his team will take its place on the grid next season.
McLaren is as hyped as the equally-enticing Mercedes Benz hood. Now that it is leading the Formula One constructors’ championship, publicity continues to gain momentum.
It was reported that McLaren’s dynamic duo – Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton had this skirmish due to the Budapest qualifying incident. To settle the feud, McLaren drivers held talks to clear the air on Thursday.
Reuters reported that the duo met with McLaren honchos ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix. Reports claimed that the drivers were not on speaking terms when they left Hungary and had not met since the last grand prix in Budapest.
A McLaren spokeswoman, meanwhile, said that the pair had talked on the telephone over the summer break. McLaren followers and critics alike hope the feud will be settled before it ruins the team’s standing in this season’s championship.
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