McLaren set to leave WorldTour

Bahrain McLaren
Bahrain McLaren (Image credit: Getty Images)

McLaren have confirmed that they will leave cycling at the end of the season, just one year after becoming co-sponsors of the WorldTour team Bahrain McLaren.

The move leaves the squad searching for a new co-sponsor for next year and comes after a financially difficult period for McLaren and year in which COVID-19 lead to a wave of pay deferrals at the team.

“Bahrain World Tour Cycling Team and McLaren, the British super car maker and F1 team, today confirm that McLaren will conclude its title partnership of Team Bahrain McLaren at the end of the 2020 season,” a statement released on Wednesday read.

“Team Bahrain McLaren has worked together with the team’s partners to maintain the team at the top level of pro cycling – both on and off the bike. The distinctive Team Bahrain McLaren colours have been ridden to a number of memorable victories so far in this Covid-19 interrupted season, including at the Saudi Tour, Paris-Nice, Circuito de Getxo and Route d’Occitanie. The team thanks McLaren for its contribution to the partnership, and wishes it well as it returns its focus to four wheeled racing.”

In July, Cyclingnews reported that due to financial problems Bahrain were searching for a new title sponsor with McLaren set to depart.

The financial pressures stemming from the coronavirus pandemic had seen McLaren suffer huge financial losses in recent months with 1,200 staff at their UK base let go earlier this spring. Riders and staff on the Bahrain McLaren team took wage deferrals of up to 70 per cent earlier this year for an agreed three-month period as the team looked to stave off financial woes, and Cyclingnews understands that although those deferred wages will not be paid in full, the squad will end the year with 75 percent of their yearly salary after the team’s owner, Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, guaranteed to keep the team in operation for 2021.

The Bahrain royal family owns a majority of stake in McLaren, but the financial pressures on both entities have been immense in recent months. McLaren profits fell from $217.7 million in 2019 to $136.2 million in 2020, according to Forbes, whilst the brand’s pre-tax loss jumped 600 per cent to $165.6 million. It was also reported at the end of June that McLaren were handed a £150m loan from the Bank of Bahrain, but even that might not be enough to save McLaren’s spot on the cycling team.

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