Mercedes ‘wants own F1 team’

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Car magazine, reporting on a potential business alliance between Mercedes and Aston Martin, also reveals Mercedes future ambitions for its own F1 team:

Says a senior source at Daimler: ‘Our agreement with McLaren won’t last forever [Mercedes holds a 40 percent stake in McLaren]. There will be no replacement for the SLR, and as soon as the price is right, we are interested in taking over the F1 business.’

Mercedes became McLaren’s engine supplier in 1995, and together they won three titles in 1998 and 1999. No further titles have followed, though there have been several near-misses.

The two collaborated on the Mercedes SLR McLaren supercar, but there are no future collaborations of the sort in the pipeline.

It isn’t the first time rumours have arisen suggesting Mercedes wants its own F1 team. Could it end up going the same way as its domestic rival BMW, which became frustrated in its partnership with a British F1 team (Williams) and instead took over another F1 outfit (Sauber)?

Mercedes’ links with McLaren run far longer and deeper than BMW’s did with Williams, and the team may deliver its first title in nine years next week. But you can never take it for granted in F1 that things will remain the same forever.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “Mercedes ‘wants own F1 team’”

  1. maybe Lewis could further emulate the Late Great Ayrton Senna and get to drive a McLaren Honda ?

  2. I think the annual ‘McLaren-Mercedes buyout’ rumor is a wee bit earlier than usual this year. Isn’t this usually reserved for a slow news day in the offseason?

    The thing is, Keith, Mercedes has no other options. They’ve already invested so much in McLaren (much more so than the Williams-BMW relationship) that it wouldn’t make sense to look anywhere else. The only privateer teams left are Williams, Force India, RBR, and STR. Of those 4, only STR is publicly for sale, but its infrastructure is way behind what McLaren has. Williams is the best-equipped of the 4, but Williams haven’t sold out to BMW or Toyota, and I’m sure they won’t sell out to Mercedes now.

  3. Think Journeyer’s spot on there – this isn’t a new story. If Ron isn’t interested in retiring though, much to Mosley’s annoyance, then Mercedes don’t really have a look in.

    Surely they should push their marketing more? Perhaps a German driver?

  4. Could be that Mercedes is going for Force India. If they get a customer car deal from McLaren for next year and they prove they can handle themselves as a real team, then maybe Mercedes will scoop them up?

  5. I think the only F1 team Mercedes would seriously consider buying is the one they currently own 40% of anyway.

    Got to say though, am I the only one who finds this story in Car a bit ill-timed, given the current economic climate and the fact that car sales are falling globally, I would be very suprised if any of the Manufacturers increased their F1 spend..!!

  6. Patrickl, the folks at Force India were shaped by the Jordan team – one of the most free-wheeling teams there ever was in F1. But that relaxed atmosphere was also one of the reasons why success came quicker to them than other startup teams.

    The reason I don’t see a Mercedes-acquired Force India team working is the same reason McLaren-Mercedes has worked better than every other team out there bar Ferrari and Renault: the core beliefs and methodologies of McLaren and Mercedes match very well: professionalism, a focus on processes, and the strictest alignment to scientific methods. Force India (or any of their previous incarnations) were nowhere near as dedicated as McLaren and Mercedes have always been to these beliefs and methodologies.

  7. Journeyer – with all due respect, I do not think you understand the degree of dedication and professionalism that a team like force india (spyker – midland – jordan) put in year after year. To be able to still compete on relatively level ground – 2 seconds off the front runners every race – on the extremely limited budget, a drop in the ocean compared to mclaren, that the team has to operate with, only emphasizes the far higher degree of dedication that teams like force india have. With access to almost unlimited resources like mclaren do you not think FI could achieve the same levels of success? Give them the oppotunity and just watch!!
    Please don’t run away with the idea that other teams don’t put the same amount of dedication and professionalism into their operation as mclaren.
    It’s just the money!!!!!

  8. @Simon, #6 – I’m not denying that Force India are probably decent hard working dedicated professionals. But the whole grid is tighter in recent season’s.
    Change the regs and the the design of the cars/engines and this would quickly jump back to the 5secs+ so often seen in the past.
    Current regs and a £200m budget deficit = 2secs & back of the grid. That’s just F1 as it is now.
    Still, bloody quick though!

  9. SIMON – I’m sure Force India put it as much effort as McLaren does – but look at WHERE they invest such effort. McLaren has always been the most deliberate team on the grid when it comes to what areas they focus on to look for improvements.

    Besides, look at Toyota, I’m sure they work just as hard as McLaren, and they even have a bigger F1 budget. But where are they? It’s not just about the money.

  10. Journeyer, that’s a very good point and one I missed to touch upon. Indeed Team Force India may well indeed be as dedicated as anyone but not necessarily as skilled. Such as Toyota for example…

  11. Journeyer – Mclaren have the genuine talent and knowledge to achieve their goals but they also have the manpower and money to throw parts at the car until they get a result. They have the correct management structure to achieve this.
    Toyota do not have the management structure. The japanese are very efficient when manufacturing the car to design specs, but are incapable of designing a successful car (just look at FI rivals honda)
    Force india are lucky enough to have certain designers with a good track record of success, with the right investment I am sure they can repeat that success.
    Force india have also had more experience with working to a minimal budget, which the other teams will have to come down to. It is not easy running an F1 team on shirt buttons, lets see how the rest cope!!!

  12. ive just read the article you quoted and its my understanding they want to buy the remaining 60% of mclaren shares for the right price and NOT another team…..
    romeo and juliet made me laugh, tho if i was running aston and mercedes together id sell my stake in mclaren f1 and start my own f1 team

  13. It’d be a sad day if McLaren Mercedes became Mercedes F1, even if the only change was the name & the owners.

    McLaren have a fine history in F1.

    As Journeyer said, we’ve all read this one before, for me if they’re going to have their own team then they should start up their own.

  14. And here i was thinking of an aston martin/prodrive/mclaren team of sorts, provided customer cars get the green light under the upcoming cost saving regulations.

  15. I can’t stand the idea of a so historical team like McLaren will become a branch of a huge company. F1 is about McLaren

    I couldn’t agree more with F.Williams when despite the money that BMW offered, he kept Williams as an independent team with lower budget-This is for me the best attitude

  16. Mercedes and BMW will start cooperation on road cars, according to news I read today. Maybe they could change BMW Sauber F1 to BMW Mercedes F1? ;)

    Seriously, I think Mercedes will do nothing at the moment. First, the economic turmoil around the world. We don’t know if it will effect more race organizers or sponsors. Second, the proposed changes to F1 with standard engines. Do they really even want to be in F1 a few years form now if it turn into a cheap standard series, or will they again go for sports cars?

  17. A point we must remember, though, is… does Mercedes think they’re getting enough bang for their buck? That is, given that they’re already spending so much for F1, would it be more profitable or cost-efficient to them to just buy the whole lot and do as they please? As it is, they can’t do that with the McLaren structure in place.

    My bet: if McLaren wins at least the WDC with Lewis this weekend, such buyout talk will die down. All the more so if McLaren snatch the WCC from Ferrari too. But if Lewis or his car chokes at Interlagos, Mercedes may get a bit sick of celebrating 10 years without a WCC and 9 years without any title.

  18. This “news” is not news at all, just another rumour.

    But apart from that, I agree it’s not the money keeping Toyota back, it’s just the fact that you can’t run a successful F1 team from the boardroom – Just look back at Jaguar.

  19. Hurry up and go solo mercedes!! The sooner the better

  20. Manatcna – Which is why I referred to it as a ‘rumour’ and not ‘news’.

  21. michael counsell
    25th October 2008, 0:26

    Jean why not go a step further and refer to Senna as “Him”…

    Maybe Mclaren are too grey for Mercedes’ silver.

  22. “Manatcna – Which is why I referred to it as a ‘rumour’ and not ‘news’.”

    I Know – Just agreeing with you

  23. By saying ‘when the price is right’ do Mercedes expect McLaren to sell everything to them? Or are the talking generally about when its affordable to run a team in F1?
    I don’t see McLaren giving up racing when Big Ron retires, it is more likely to grow and develop under Martin Whitmarsh, and as others have pointed out, the team will find another engine supplier – McLaren Cosworth maybe?
    As for Mercedes, it wasn’t that long ago they were using Sauber designs for sports cars, which turned into Mercedes sports cars, and were supplying engines for the Sauber F1 team. They are also supplying the engines to teams in the British F3 series, so F1 is not their only source of open-wheel ideas.
    It would be interesting to see whether a pure factory Mercedes F1 team would race alongside McLaren-Mercedes in the future, and maybe an reborn Prodrive-Mercedes too…

  24. Oh, and a Mercedes – Aston Martin tie up? Isn’t the man who owns Prodrive now also the proud owner of Aston Martin? No link there then….
    And er, Aston Martin have a habit of winning of GT Races (including class leaders at Le Mans), so at the moment they are probably worth considering to Mercedes, especially since A-M will need engines once their deal with Ford runs out….
    Also, a quick look in any car magazine this week will show how Mercedes are building the replacement for the SLR themselves…..
    And finally, please remember that although the engines in the McLarens are badged as Mercedes, they are actually built by Ilmor in Essex, with a little help from AMG….so whats to stop McLaren using genuine Ilmors in the future?
    Two posts together? Naughty DG!!

  25. they are actually built by Ilmor in Essex, with a little help from AMG

    Most interesting! did not know this, is it this?

    got any more info on that? i couldn’t find much about it

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