McLaren is in talks with potential partners including Audi, a further source has confirmed to Autocar - but this source stresses that other potential investors, such as BMW, are also involved as preliminary discussions ramp up.
On Monday, Autocar followed up on stories in the German media suggesting that talks were under way, reporting that a separate source had identified that Audi had completed a deal, which was hotly denied by McLaren.
In a statement, the brand said the story was "wholly inaccurate", adding: "McLaren’s technology strategy has always involved ongoing discussions and collaboration with relevant partners and suppliers, including other car makers. However, there has been no change in the ownership structure of the McLaren Group.”
However, a new source has now revealed that Audi's talks have progressed to an "important" point, suggesting that the premium car maker must decide whether to continue or walk away imminently. In reaction to the story in the German media, Reuters reported that Audi said it was "open to cooperation opportunities".
Autocar's latest source added that Audi was not the only potential bidder, though, naming BMW as another potential suitor, and indicating that other car manufacturers were also potentially holding early-stage discussions with McLaren. BMW stands by its original response, saying that earlier reports of its interest in McLaren are "wrong".
All the parties that have shown an interest in McLaren are said to have begun their approach as a result of interest in entering Formula 1 with the team, although the source acknowledged that some had then widened their conversations to include the road car arm of the firm.
The structure of McLaren means that the sporting and automotive arms of the firm have separate ownership structures. Both sides of the company have undergone heavy restructuring in recent times, including fundraising and job losses, as well as the sale of the McLaren Applied Technologies division and lease-back of its Woking HQ.
Volkswagen Group brands Audi and Porsche are widely known to be actively evaluating F1 entries. BMW's name has not been linked to a return to the sport until now, although the success of Mercedes and the potential entry of Audi makes a re-evaluation of that position logical.
Hyundai has previously been linked to F1, but there is no evidence of it planning to switch from the World Rally Championship at present, while several F1 teams are reported to have wooed a variety of Chinese car makers to look at the sport, albeit with little success to date.
The latest revelations come despite Reuters also reporting that a BMW spokesman rubbished talks of a potential partnership with McLaren. The two firms already work together on several projects, including some relating to battery technology, and it is believed that these have led to informal conversations about deepening the partnership that have yet to be formalised. However, a decision on whether to progress talks formally is expected to be imminent.