McLaren play down Pure engine reports

Jan.31 (Reuters) McLaren have played down contacts with Formula 1’s planned new engine maker Pure on Monday amid lingering speculation about the Mercedes-powered team’s future supplier.

“McLaren has had absolutely no contact with Pure for many months,” a McLaren spokesman said.

“Moreover, the contact we did have with Pure, many months ago, was of an entirely informal nature, and was merely a courtesy gesture.”

Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper reported that Pure, led by Jacques Villeneuve’s former manager and team boss Craig Pollock, had been sounded out as possible replacements for Mercedes after a new V6 1.6 litre turbo engine is introduced from the start of 2014.

McLaren’s former shareholders Mercedes have sold their stake in the team since buying 2009 champions Brawn GP and renaming them Mercedes GP.

The Mercedes deal allowed McLaren free engines until the end of 2012 and then a supply until at least 2015 at the going rate of around 8 million euros ($10.51 million) a year.

McLaren have also been linked to Honda, who powered them to titles with the late Brazilian Ayrton Senna and Frenchman Alain Prost between 1988 and 1992, but the team said in November those reports were wide of the mark.

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale said at the time that the team, who have champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton as their drivers, were entirely focused on the relationship with Mercedes