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Last January, shortly after his appointment, Andreas Seidl began building a plan that he could keep safe from everyone's curiosity in the F1 paddock. A feat of discretion over nine long months, during which the McLaren sports director has been acting with an amazing stealth. Only on Friday, while the engineers were winding their brains to improve the performance of Carlos Sainz in Sochi, the British press finally found the thread of the skein. And there was no one who was not speechless. Because the future of the team will again be a nod to its past. From 2021 McLaren Mercedes returns.

As Zak Brown , McLaren's top boss admitted yesterday, the idea of ​​dispensing with Renault engines was Seidl, an executive with no previous experience in the first level of F1, but with an extraordinary background in front of Porsche in the Resistance World Championship . One of the first ideas he conveyed to the money owners is that he needed a new wind tunnel in Woking. However, despite the ambitious nature of the project, Saudi businessman Mansour Ojjeh and the Sheikhs of Bahrain from the Mumtalakat fund had not yet heard the best.

That idea, confirmed now, focused on recovering the old alliance with Mercedes, with whom McLaren buckled 78 wins and 231 podiums between 1995 and 2014. More than with any other biker. The intention, still distant, to reissue the world titles of Mika Hakkinen (1998 and 1999) and Lewis Hamilton (2008). Almost two decades on the cusp, with 14 years as an official team and another six as a simple client. From that first distant podium in Monza 1995, to Melbourne 2014, with Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button as protagonists. No McLaren driver has uncorked the champagne of the elect since Sunday.

"This agreement represents a new step in our long-term recovery plan," Seidl, only 43, said yesterday after negotiations with Toto Wolff and Cyril Abiteboul , two authentic sights of the Grand Circus. The Austrian secures a fourth customer for Mercedes, who will continue to sell his propellers to Racing Point, Williams and, of course, his official team, the great tyrant of this turbohybrid era of V6 engines. The Renault boss simply gets a span of noses. In 2021, the course where the regulatory revolution will take effect, the French brand will distribute only to its factory team.

That World Cup opens a new horizon that not even the top people in charge of the business can still unravel. However, the five crowns of the Silver Arrows make Mercedes "the reference," according to Brown's sincere analysis yesterday. "It is crucial that we have the right elements to prepare for the new era," added Seidl on the power units. The historical prestige of McLaren adds to the flattering future of Mercedes. Now it remains to be seen if Sainz also fits in that future, whose contract expires in 2020.

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