McLaren engine switch from Renault to Mercedes will go ahead in 2021

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Carlos Sainz driving the McLaren during winter testing in Barcelona
Carlos Sainz started winter testing with McLaren in Barcelona in February, before F1 activities were suspended

McLaren's switch from Renault to Mercedes engines next year will go ahead despite teams having to run the same cars for two years.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a series of rule changes, including a requirement that the chassis must be carried over into next year.

McLaren's engine move was discussed in that context at Thursday's meeting of F1 bosses and approved, the team said.

F1 is still debating what other areas of the cars will stay the same in 2021.

Governing body the FIA announced on Thursday that it had been agreed teams would use their 2020 chassis in 2021 as a result of the "volatile financial situation created [by the coronavirus crisis], with potential freezing of further components to be discussed in due course".

Under the current state of talks, aerodynamics are expected to stay relatively free for development but there are likely to be other areas of the car beside the chassis that will be frozen over the two seasons to keep costs down.

The rule changes have been made because the sport is facing a loss of income as a result of races being called off in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The Monaco Grand Prix, scheduled as the seventh race of the season for the end of May, has been cancelled and will not take place this year.

The other six races that were due to start the season - in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands and Spain - have all been postponed.

It is not yet known whether any of them will be able to be rescheduled, or how many other races may fall by the wayside.

An engine switch with the same chassis should be relatively straightforward for McLaren because F1 rules stipulate that the mounting points on the engine must be the same for all manufacturers.

That means McLaren will only have to make packaging changes to accommodate the different architecture of the Mercedes engine.

This is still a significant piece of work, but the team will seek to make the minimum changes possible while maintaining maximum competitiveness from one season to the next.

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