McLaren Automotive has dropped its biggest hint yet that hybrid technology will feature on its future supercars.

The firm is advertising on its website for a senior engineer in powertrain hybrid technology, and the role requires someone to “lead the technical assessment, integration and application of appropriate hybrid powertrain technology.”

A McLaren spokesman wouldn’t confirm whether or not the advert meant it was planning on adding hybrid technology to its road cars, but did confirm it was a technology McLaren was interested in.

The spokesman said: “It [hybrid technology] is something we want as a forward-thinking, technology-driven company. We have been considering it for future projects.

“All the advert means is that we are looking for a senior engineer in powertrain hybrid technology. Read into it what you will.”

McLaren has so far been coy with its plans for its upcoming supercar, codenamed the P11, ahead of its expected launch at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this year.

Pre-production models have been regularly photographed by Autocar spies, but concrete details on the production version have not been forthcoming.

The P11 is expected to go up against the upcoming Ferrari F450 and Lamborghini Gallardo when it goes on sale in 2011.

With McLaren only now advertising for someone to lead hybrid development, the P11 is likely to feature limited hybrid technology initially, such as a stop-start system. A further two models are reportedly in development, with McLaren Automotive boss Ron Dennis planning an output of around 4000 cars a year by 2015.

McLaren is advertising for someone with experience in working with low-volume production, with a figure of 5000 units quoted. This suggests that all future McLaren models could feature some hybrid technology.

The job requires someone to: “Identify and support the progression of advanced powertrain technologies within McLaren Automotive, support hybrid powertrain design, development and integration activities and manage the definition and execution of development & validation activities.”

McLaren seemingly wants to develop its own full hybrid powertrains, which would go beyond more conventional and mainstream hybrid technologies such as stop-start, to compete with Ferrari and Lamborghini. Both Italian companies have confirmed hybrid powertrains are in development.

Ferrari’s plans for a full 4x4 hybrid system recently leaked and its boss Amedeo Felisa said a Ferrari hybrid concept was likely to be seen later this year. Lamborghini has also announced plans to develop hybrid powertrains as it attempts to cut its CO2 emissions.

As a Formula One team, McLaren has long been an innovator and already knows more about hybrid technology than many other companies due to its development of KERS. The system has now effectively been scrapped from F1, so McLaren may well implement its KERS knowledge and experience into its road cars.

Mark Tisshaw