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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Ben Parsons

McLaren 'consider shock partnership' with Red Bull despite Zak Brown's cost cap comments

McLaren are reportedly considering a shock engine partnership with Red Bull - just months after CEO Zak Brown accused his F1 rivals of "cheating" in a bitter cost-cap row.

Brown and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner became embroiled in a war-of-words last year after the world champions breached 2021 budget cap rules.

But McLaren chief Brown looks ready to put that rivalry to one side after it emerged Red Bull were being weighed up as an option for a potential power unit supply deal.

McLaren's engines will be supplied by Mercedes for another three seasons, but preliminary talks are now under way with Red Bull ahead of a fresh partnership for the 2026 campaign.

Red Bull recently announced they will join forces with Ford from 2026 as the US car giants help fund their own design for a new engine ahead of a shake-up to F1's technical regulations. And the Press Association now reports that Brown has already visited Red Bull's factory as McLaren consider their own options ahead of the regulation overhaul.

Brown was exploring the possibility of teaming up with Red Bull for 2026, while Japanese manufacturers Honda - the current Red Bull engine suppliers - are also said to remain an option ahead of a possible formal return to the sport.

And Brown's surprise visit to Red Bull will raise eyebrows in the F1 paddock given his tense history with team boss Horner.

The American insinuated that Red Bull were guilty of foul play in an angry open letter to FIA p resident Mohammed Ben Sulayem last year. Brown said the cost-cap breaches " constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations."

A relationship between Horner and Brown appeared unlikely after the cost-cap row (Getty Images)

Red Bull were not explicitly named in Brown's strongly-worded letter but the accusation appeared directed at them as one of the team's under investigation at the time. And Horner bit back at the US Grand Prix in October in a fiery press conference alongside Brown, saying he was "shocked and appalled" by the allegations made against his team.

Brown has since defiantly defended his letter to the FIA, with Red Bull fined just over £6million and given a 10 percent cut in permitted aerodynamic research for exceeding spending limits by £1.8m.

But talks of an unlikely 2026 partnership between McLaren and Red Bull have begun, ahead of lights out on the 2023 campaign at the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend.

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