Apple were in talks to buy, invest in or work with McLaren, Autocar understands - but those talks are now understood to have stalled.
The Financial Times broke the news that Apple and McLaren had been in discussions over a potential £1.5bn takeover, but this was subsequently denied by a McLaren spokesman, who said: "We are not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment".
However, he added McLaren "regularly has confidential conversations with a wide range of parties".
Autocar understands that this last comment alludes to the fact that Apple and McLaren did hold high-level talks about working together on the California-based tech firm's road car, the so-called codenamed Project Titan.
The potential tie-up would have accelerated Apple's plans for its first production car model, which has been in the making for several years and which is tipped to launch in 2020. Thanks to its Formula 1 team and technology division, McLaren has expertise in exotic car production, advanced engineering and data, making it an attractive proposition for a brand like Apple that is new to cars.
Rumours of Apple's interest in and around Formula 1 were first broken by F1 reporter - and former Autocar Grand Prix editor - Joe Saward in July. It was suggested then that Apple was interested in buying the rights to Formula 1, which have subsequently been sold to Liberty Media for a reported £6bn. However, it is now understood that talks included collaborating with or buying the McLaren Group.
The asking price of £1.5 billion would have made McLaren Apple's biggest purchase since it bought Beats Electronics in 2014 for $3 billion (about £2.3 billion). Apple is said to be particularly interested in McLaren's extensive patent lists, as well as the company's engineering expertise and technology.