McLaren looks set to continue its push for the front of the grid with customer Mercedes power.

Recently, it was rumoured that the Woking based team flirted with teaming up with Audi for 2026 – or that top engineer Rob Marshall’s amicable move from Red Bull to McLaren was part of a future McLaren-Red Bull engine deal.

But team boss Andrea Stella has now hinted that staying with Mercedes power is in fact the most likely route for McLaren in 2026 and beyond.

“It’s great to be a factory team,” he said, “but it’s almost the same if your partner is a well-known manufacturer.

“Changing partner during the transition to new regulations is associated with a certain risk, and in 2026 we want to be at the front,” Stella added.

“I don’t want to say ’We need two more years because our project is not mature enough’. We want to be in good shape – both in terms of the chassis and with a good power unit.

“At the moment, our limitations have nothing to do with our power unit, which is excellent,” he said.

Indeed, McLaren’s 2023 car is behaving so far in much the same way as Ferrari’s is – inconsistently.

The first major upgrade hit the track at Baku, but Stella admits that it only delivered “a tenth at most” in terms of pace.

“But the upgrade gives us more leeway in development,” said the Italian, a well-known former race engineer at Ferrari who this year replaced the new Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl as he was promoted to become McLaren team boss.

And the next major development step is now due to debut at Silverstone next month – and Stella does not deny that it might be accurately described as a ’B’ version.

“The car will change in appearance quite significantly,” he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

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