Prodrive-McLaren negotiations collapse
Prodrive's negotiations with McLaren-Mercedes for a partnership in next year's Formula One World Championship have collapsed, autosport.com has learned.
Prodrive have been pursuing a deal with the Woking-based outfit for a supply of customer cars, and just a few weeks ago Prodrive boss David Richards said the only hurdle left to overcome in the negotiations is the new Concorde Agreement.
However, sources have told autosport.com that McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh notified his staff yesterday that the team are no longer pressing ahead with their plans for a partnership with Prodrive.
Neither McLaren nor Prodrive would comment on the matter.
It is not clear yet why the negotiations fell through. Nevertheless, it comes just days after the FIA announced Prodrive will face a Court of Appeal hearing later this month over their entry, following legal questions from rivals Williams.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis said at last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix that the team had not signed a deal with Prodrive, and could not do so without complete clarity over their entry.
"We have not entered into any contract with any team at this moment of time," he said. "If a team wishes to enter the 2008 World Championship and that team does not have complete clarity as to whether it is or is not permitted to enter then it is a matter for that team and certainly not for McLaren."
As recently as the Belgian Grand Prix, Richards revealed that a deal for car and engines had been agreed - although he never named McLaren specifically.
"We are there, but there are lots of issues surrounding the validity of the Concorde Agreement," Richards told autosport.com about the progress with his team.
"It is those sorts of things that leave question marks at the moment, and they need to be resolved. Every other aspect of it is cleared up."
Despite Whitmarsh's statement, Prodrive sources insist that they have not yet completely given up on reviving the McLaren deal.
Should that not be possible, however, then Prodrive may still have opportunities elsewhere - with Renault having been favourites for a supply deal at one point.
In an interview with the Times newspaper in August, Richards said that McLaren were one of three teams that Prodrive were speaking to at the time.