Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Why should Mercedes continue in Formula 1?

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In the aftermath of Sunday’s French Grand Prix – arguably the most torpid Formula 1 race for years, with very little ‘grand’ about it – much was said about the state of F1, particularly after sweeping regulatory changes were made this year to facilitate overtaking.

In the ensuing outcry the significance of a comment made by Mercedes F1 CEO Toto Wolff was largely overlooked: “Now the second weakness [Valtteri Bottas] needs to attack is tyre management. He’s very aware of that, where he needs to improve…” According to Wolff the first, namely single-lap pace, has been addressed by his driver.

In a championship where tyre management is absolutely critical – ask Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, who has referred to tyre selection as a “Kinder Surprise”, or lucky dip, about that one – such references by team bosses are expected. After all, Bottas’s team mate Lewis Hamilton won the other six races, placing second in two rounds.

But of course on Sunday Bottas placed second, not third-to-last, as did the sole Haas to see the chequered flag. Bottas has won two races on merit this year, and placed second in four of six rounds, with his only bottom-step podium coming in Monaco after Max Verstappen-induced incident, for which the Red Bull driver was penalised.

That leaves Canada, where a qualifying error – unrelated to tyres – blotted Valtteri’s record. Thus, by inference, Bottas’s relative tyre management problems has not cost the team places this year, nor can it be blamed for ‘only’ six one-twos rather a clean sweep this year. Still, on Sunday the team achieved its 10th consecutive F1 victory, and could equal McLaren’s 1988 record of 11 in a row this weekend.

Granted, two of those came last season. And Bahrain this year was in the pocket of Charles Leclerc’s red Ferrari overalls before engine maladies cruelly intervened. But, if anything, such factors illustrate the utter domination of the Mercedes F1 Team achieved by virtue of doing the most complete job in every single aspect of what is probably the most complex pastime on earth.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2019
France was Mercedes’ eighth win – and sixth one-two – this year
Indeed, with five double world titles since 2014 and virtually unassailable leads in both 2019 hunts – four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel needs to coax his Ferrari to three consecutive wins with Hamilton retiring thrice simply to close the gap to one point in the drivers’ chase.

At this rate Mercedes could clinch a sixth teams’ title by Singapore in September. It will take an extraordinary turnaround from Ferrari to stop the silver team eclipsing their 1999-2004 title runs.

Given that the 2020 technical and sporting regulations are little changed from current sets, it’s fair to speculate that Mercedes will be the team to beat in next year’s championships. They could realistic sweep the 2014-20 hybrid era championships thanks to a chain of events set into motion by current Liberty F1 CEO Ross Brawn, which saw Mercedes invest heavily in F1 a decade ago.

But inevitably, regardless of the duration of victory streaks in whatever activity, the principle of diminishing returns soon kicks in. And what could be more galling than constant criticism while striving for perfection?

Brands too often overlook that passion is driven by deep-rooted human needs for competition and fallibility, not by showboating perfectionism. Just as many fans in the noughties begged for an end to ‘Peak Ferrari’ so their focus has now switched to Mercedes.

Let us assume – and such conjecture is founded on the momentum the team has accumulated under the current regulations – that Mercedes makes it seven double titles on the bounce, the logical question posed to F1 management during a notional executive meeting held in the most forbidding of Stuttgart boardrooms must surely be: “Why should we continue in Formula 1?”

The company asked itself the same question at the end of 1955, having won everything in sight for two years. True, on that occasion the tragedy of that year’s horrific Le Mans disaster also prompted the response, but Mercedes understood then that further defeat would tarnish its winning record – and thus the official line: ‘We have nothing left to prove’. Now Mercedes has even less to prove. Cue the ‘mic drop’ and stage exit?

Sauber, 1992
Mercedes returned to F1 via Sauber in 1992
Forget not that the make-up of the Mercedes board has changed considerably since the company committed to its current F1 campaign (initially as engine supplier) during the nineties: Then-CEO Jürgen Schrempp was boss for ten years, and on a mission to build a global car company, having taken Daimler into a ‘heavenly marriage’ with Chrysler, that soon ended in acrimonious divorce.

Indeed, the first (1993) F1 Saubers bore the legend ‘Concept by Mercedes’ despite being powered by Ilmor engines. Schrempp initiated the purchase and rebranding of Ilmor to Mercedes High Performance Engines, then approved a 40 per cent stake in McLaren – in turn sold by successor Dieter Zetsche to fund the purchase of Brawn GP, which waltzed both 2009 titles as independent team using customer Mercedes engines.

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Now, though, Zetsche is in retirement – although the word is he will return as chairman of Daimler’s Supervisory Board once the mandatory two-year ‘cooling off’ period expires – replaced by Ola Källenius, an economics/business management graduate and the first non-engineer to be appointed chairman of the Board of Management/Head of Mercedes Passenger Cars.

Gary Paffett,, Mercedes, DTM, 2018
Title-winning Mercedes DTM squad was canned…
Mercedes insiders point to Källenius’s time at McLaren as chief operating officer during its ‘works’ team era and his spells as managing director of the Mercedes F1 engine operation and vice president of AMG as proof his ‘petrolheadedness’. However his CV also lists a variety of senior procurement/sales postings across Europe and the USA, so it is clear that his is a structured Daimler career path.

The Swede recently unveiled his ‘Ambition 2039’ business plan, which outlines plans to make the entire Mercedes-Benz Cars offering completely CO2-neutral within 20 years. A cornerstone of his business plan is to generate more than half of car sales via electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

Tellingly, where the Mercedes website invites you to ‘Discover More’, you will find ‘Electromobility’ listed at the top, followed by Innovation, Design, Exhibitions, Museums and, eventually, Sports (including F1).

Mercedes topped last year’s ‘Big Three Luxury Car’ sales log, in the process trouncing BMW and Audi, neither of which are in F1. But this week BMW announced plans to speed up its electrification programmes by launching 25 e-models, half of them fully electric, by 2023, while Audi has similar plans for its e-Tron brand. Thus the battle for electrified luxury cars is being taken straight into Tesla territory.

Such projects require massive funding. Yet simultaneously Källenius plans to achieve $6bn in efficiency savings by 2021 (note the date) and cut headcounts by 10,000, all while ramping up for profitable e-mobility and autonomous vehicles. This begs the questions: ‘Where does F1 fit into all this?’ Previously Mercedes withdrew from DTM after similar lines of questioning…

Mercedes Formula E car test, Varano, 2019
…in favour of a new Formula E team
Motor manufacturers participate in Formula 1 for three main reasons – technology transfer, brand awareness and vehicle sales – and generally fund their programmes through contributions from the three divisions even if a single (big) corporate pot ultimately covers such budgets.

Thus, research and development, marketing and sales divisions fund the F1 team directly or indirectly, and thus have input into its operation. Given F1’s (broad) retention of current power units regulations, the increasing use of stock parts and the far-reaching implications of cost caps, post-2020 the R&D contribution is likely to come under considerable scrutiny, and that reckons without internal competition from Formula E.

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However, given F1’s focus on cost caps, will F1 not ultimately be more cost-effective – in line with Källenius’s strategic cornerstones? Absolutely, but they are also likely to level the playing field, (hopefully) making the current steamroller-type domination well-nigh impossible.

Would, then, a brand as proud as Mercedes be content to finish second (or worse) behind independent team using its customer engines? The 2009 season answered that succinctly – Mercedes immediately dumped McLaren, acquired champions Brawn and ramped up its new team through massive investments and a doubling of resources, thereby creating a dominant operation. That should prove virtually impossible under cost cap regulations.

Start, Sepang International Circuit, 2004
Mercedes can eclipse Ferrari’s noughties dominance
Equally, such a situation would be highly damaging for the Mercedes brand – and ultimately vehicle sales – so why risk it? The brand is riding the crest of the F1 wave, but, as every surfer knows, the only way from up there is down, and into frothy water.

The team’s current F1 commitment expires at end-2020; thereafter Mercedes would need to re-commit to F1 for, likely, another five years – while pushing to meet Källenius’s ambitious objectives and targets.

Concurrently income from Liberty is expected to dip as a revised revenue structure kicks in, one which rewards teams on a performance basis rather than an extremely lucrative by-right bonus structure from which Mercedes benefits massively. When the time comes, the board will surely pose searching questions about returns on investment and the future of F1, particularly in these environmentally-sensitive times.

Then there is the question of team leadership: As RaceFans revealed last month the future of Liberty CEO/chairman Chase Carey is under discussion, with the most likely scenario being that the 65-year-old will remain as chairman, with the replacement CEO drawn from F1 ranks.

Wolff, whose Mercedes contract and 30 per cent shareholding in the team expires at the end of 2020, is said by solid sources to be in the frame. While the Austrian dismissed such suggestions, he stopped short of issuing outright denials, but did confirm his contractual situation. Subsequently, his fellow (10 per cent) shareholder Niki Lauda passed away, further complicating the situation.

Against that background, let us consider the changes and challenges facing Mercedes F1: A new holding company chairman/CEO, one with different values and visions from his predecessor; New corporate road map calling for a strategic overhaul of existing product ranges and massive cuts/savings; Much mooted changes at the top of Liberty; Stringent new regulations that level the playing field and mitigate against big-spending teams; Potentially (much) reduced F1 income; Increasing technical restrictions, thus reducing road relevance; And the need to commit medium-long term to F1 at a time of ecological sensitivity/competition from Formula E.

All factors considered, it would be no surprise were arguments over the F1 team’s future to rage during future board meetings, with a number of scenarios being considered. Of course, the fate of the team’s state-of-the-art Brackley facility would come under discussion, as would the future of the Brixworth engine factory, which, though, currently undertakes various projects on behalf of group entities.

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In the event that the company exits F1, Mercedes High Performance Powerplants – as it is now known – could conceivably continue as F1 customer engine supplier given that the majority of hybrid-era expenditure was incurred pre-2014. The post-2020 technical regulations continue largely as is, although 2021’s sporting regulations impose restrictions on activities such as dynamometer runs to further save costs.

Karl Kling, Juan Manuel Fangio, Mercedes, Reims, 1954
The Silver Arrows had their fill of F1 success in the fifties
Under such a scenario the Mercedes brand could claim kudos when its engines win but blames teams when they lose, all while cost-effectively keeping the Three-pointed Star in F1.

That leaves the future of Brackley under scrutiny: What to do with the operation should a boardroom vote go against continuing in F1?

Who, though, would buy the team – and the largest standalone factory in F1 history – as a running concern, particularly given F1’s pending downsize? Then there is the question of labour laws and the company’s reputation for ethics, making a simple shut down a no-go.

That leaves a third option: fully integrate what is the company’s most advanced research and development operation into Mercedes R&D by deploying the superb resources and supreme multi-championship-winning skills of hundreds of engineers and technicians to develop and produce a range of prototype, show and concept cars for Mercedes, plus hone the team’s Formula E racers.

What, after all, are F1 cars other than prototypes that eventually prove (or not) their worth in competition through ongoing and meticulous development? To support Källenius’s new model programme and electrification targets, the company would in any event need to boost the number of R&D bases from six in the near future. Britain’s motor racing ‘cottage industry’, too, would benefit enormously in the process.

What are the chances that all this comes to pass? That depends on boardroom answers to a searching question that will surely be asked within the next year: “Why should Mercedes continue in Formula 1?”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 44 comments on “Why should Mercedes continue in Formula 1?”

    1. Sonny Crockett
      26th June 2019, 12:10

      Great. Article.

      1. +1

        Would another of the German giants be interested in taking the Brackley operation off Mercedes’ hands? Porsche? Audi? It’s as close to a readymade winning operation as they are ever likely to get. Even just to run for 2-3 years, pick up a championship or two and duck out.

        The article certainly makes a pretty convincing case for Mercedes to stop after next year. All the online vitriol adding to the sound financial and business case for an exit.

        Lewis in red for 2021 would be absolutely blockbuster along with the new cars and regs. For those who swear blind this could never happen need only look at the driver who denied Ferrari multiple championships between 2010 – 13 and who that guy drives for now.

        1. I would be staggered if Lewis ended up at Ferrari. Ferrari have their own code compared to others in the paddock. First off he will be expected to learn Italian all Ferrari drivers especially the Number 1 driver are expected to do so. Second, as the Nikki Lauda said, “Toto rang me late at night and my reaction was what has Lewis done now?” You have to admire Lewis’ ability to do what he wants when he wants and he does generate publicity outside of F1 but in a corporate machine like Ferrari theres a lot of that that isn’t compatible. I would expect him to see out his days at Mercedes and then retire, or to retire if they pull the plug at the end of next year.

        2. I don’t have the feeling that Lewis will end up at Ferrari, but much stranger things have happened and it ultimately depends on Mercedes continued involvement, so it can’t be ruled out.
          In 2020+ I personally don’t think Ferrari would put any significant pressure on a driver to learn Italian, in this era of international teams. The English-only speaking drivers get an easy time answering questions in one language only, so why not just let him live in the ‘ignorance’ of only speaking one language? Let the journalists ask the questions in their 2nd language, don’t put that pressure on the driver. If Lewis started learning Italian at the age of 35+, then he would be lucky to hold down a half decent technical conversation by the time he’s 40. Now that’s not an attack on his intelligence, because he is an intelligent guy, it’s just that that’s my guess of how long it would take him in his life circumstances of constantly travelling and never really ‘needing’ Italian.

    2. Very nice article.

      I have been of the view that there is very little to keep Mercedes in F1 after 2020, as you’ve already so nicely outlined. With no new competitors on the horizon, there is little left for Mercedes to prove, especially seeing how they’ve risen to the Ferrari challenge.

      I had always thought Mercedes would sell their team (and the Brackley base) to another entity, but you raise an interesting point that it might end up just being absorbed into the Mercedes organization. If that were to transpire, it would no doubt create huge headaches for Liberty, wouldn’t it? Since that would drop the number of cars on the grid below 20, which is – if I recall correctly – the minimum contracted number for various venues.

      1. 16 is currently the minimum; thereafter teams are called upon to enter third cars in championship classification order.

        1. Would being forced to run a 3rd car tip the balance for other teams. Its a significant extra cost

          1. When they discussed the budget-cap, you would think they thought about this one he?…. Then again…. probably not…

          2. A 3rd car mandated by the sporting regs would more than likely come in the form of significant dispensations or grants as quite frankly the entire champuionship would be f’d if the teams couldnt afford to run them.

            1. There are restrictions outlined in the team bilaterals: CCB teams are called on first, the team receives only 50% travel allowance for that car, and it does not score points so does not receive prize money although a portion of the prize money surplus (created by fewer teams) is allocated to off-set costs.

        2. Thank you, Dieter, so Liberty would still have some breathing room.

    3. “Why should Mercedes stay in F1?”

      “Mercedes topped last year’s ‘Big Three Luxury Car’ sales log”

      Probably that, then. Yeah there is a lot of talk and hype about electrification, but normal petrol and diesel cars are still going to be the primary sellers for a while yet. Maybe in 10 years time, when the split is closer to 50/50 and Formula E has evolved some more, there will be more draw to put more/most/all resources into that.

      Also, having Hamilton as a ambassador/marketing tool is a huge boon to Mercedes’ image. Until Ferrari give him a big enough offer to tempt him over, I don’t see the Merc board pulling the plug.

    4. Great article, there really is no benefit in Mercedes staying around in their current form, better to dive out at the top than give the perception that they were ever caught. It would be damaging for F1 also that the dominant team leaves, especially if they used the exit to highlight their investment into Formula E, as the winner the following season would always be asked “would you have beaten Mercedes though?”.

      1. Honestly the precision and perfection in every area that this team is operating at I genuinely think they would still win with a budget cap and new regs. They are operationally so far ahead of any other team it’s insane.

        1. And that in itself would say something ‘we are efficient, in engine, in using our efforts and budget, and we produce results’ -> buy our efficient, effective, yet glamorous brand. It’s the best argument for them to stay in my opinion, but, this article makes a lot of solid arguments why not to stay too.

          PS. Selling that effective team to a competitor – a) they win: oh, yeah, they bought success that Mercedes built; b) they do not win: even when coming in by buying a winning team with so much pedigree, they cannot do it, even Ferrari are better: at least they stuck around and built it themselves – no, that might not be a workable idea.

        2. I think people forget that Mercedes have largely won over the last 5 years because of their engine and haven’t necessarily had the best chassis during that time. It is only this year that they have slam dunked the chassis, and that combined with their engine has given them the advantage – which still isn’t as great as it was at the start of this God-forsaken hybrid era.

          1. There is no evidence either way on that. Many cases it has being sprouted by disgruntled Redbull fans. It is shocking the under estimation the Merc aero and chassis get

          2. They might not have had the best chassis but even then it has been a close second. It is difficult to build a chassis that is the best on every track from monaco to spa to spain. As such red bull and ferrari have occasionally been the best with mercedes having “catastrophic” 3rd and 4th positions. But most of f1 car’s performance comes from the tires. The pirellis have really narrow operating range and mercedes has been consistently the best team to get most out of the tires. Whereas the only competitors are either struggling (red bull) or totally suffering (ferrari).

    5. Great article. They are obviously not going to stay forever. But all the talk about electrification, F1 is so much bigger in marketing terms. Heck, there’s an advertisement from Mercedes on the radio here in Spain that offers the AMG package on their cars for free to celebrate their success in F1. They say that in the ad. And the funny thing is that there’s the sound of a V10 F1 car when it ends.

      So engines, the petrol eating ones, are still selling. Specially their top models. If they are staying, it’s because of that.

    6. This is certainly a possibility. What happens when Mercedes no longer get a return on their investment?

      1. Last I heard, Mercedes was getting advertising equivalence (ie, the amount they’d have to spend to get the same market exposure) in the *billions* of dollars, for a team that’s pulling in substantial revenue in sponsorship and F1 winnings.

        As long as they’re getting 10:1 return on investment through marketing, I think they’ll stick around.

        I suspect, however, Toto and Lewis will both leave around the same time– and that might be the end of Mercedes in F1.

    7. RocketTankski
      26th June 2019, 13:45

      I reckon Mercedes will leave in 2 years and focus on electric series. Hamilton will retire at the same time. But then come back to chase for an 8th championship.

    8. The decision to purchase Brawn GP was not universally embraced by members of the Board; Zetsche spent political capital to get it approved, in the belief the team could win and do so at either a break-even basis,or even turn a profit.From strictly an accounting p-o-v,the team could have been operating in the black for the last few years but they decide to show a small loss,I believe for PR purposes.

      I have made the argument before,given his personal involvement, that a management buyout by Zetsche and Wolff is a possibility, since Wolff is not short of ambition and he has successfully pushed Brawn and Lowe out the door.

    9. but they are also likely to level the playing field, (hopefully) making the current steamroller-type domination well-nigh impossible.

      It’s hope that kills us…

      1. Personally, I view this entire article as “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if Mercedes left, and everyone else could compete?”

        But that’s not the problem. If Mercedes left, the way the rules are written, either Ferrari or Red Bull (or possibly Renault, if they commit to F1), would become the steamroller.

        The cost cap will be completely ineffectual at improving competition, because no one running the F1 show understands how they got in this hole– They’ve made the rules so restrictive, and changing so fast, that only the really, really deep pocket teams can afford to keep up.

        1. It would be ferrari steam roller. Red bull is now stuck with honda and they’ll never make a championship winning engine in f1. At least not in the next 5 years. Ferrari already has the best engine according to some people and while this year’s car is a not good enough it is still solid second place team. Chances are ferrari will at least keep at its current level which would already guarantee easy championship should mercedes choose to pullout.

          The cost cap is a great thing but it does not do much to the engine advantage that the teams will carry from 2014 all the way to 2026 or so. This alone means ferrari dominates and honda sucks. Renault might eventually catch up to merc if merc chooses to stay as engine manufacturer but they then probably won’t put any effort into their engines. The way I see it ferrari would dominate as the only competent factory team whereas red bull, renault and mclaren have drunken melee for the 2nd place.

    10. Realistically, none of the Manufacturers have much to gain from being in F1 – I would be astonished if their F1 activities have any appreciable impact on sales or R&D. “What wins on Sunday sells on Monday” stopped being true decades ago.

      Motorsport activities for car manufacturers really just reflect the board’s perception of the company values. A massage of the collective ego. A key part of Mercedes’ current brand identity is performance via the AMG brand – and what better way to reflect performance than by winning F1? Where do I sign?

      The truth is, Mercedes would sell a bucket load of AMG-branded cars without being in F1. The extra ones that they might sell because they can put a logo in the corner of an ad campaign aren’t worth the expense of running a race team. Audi and BMW aren’t in F1 and sell just as many M and S/RS cars.

      Frankly F1 is lucky that there are enough fools out there (corporate and private) that are willing to fund the circus!

      Bernie knew this which is why he courted the dirty industries and puppet states.

    11. With the direction this sport is going, the question should be: Why would anyone stay in F1.
      Last sunday another 10 million viewers were shed, the attendance was extremely poor, revenue is falling and when Honda and Renault don’t catch up there will probably be only 2 engine manufacturers + RBR, TR and works Renault will walk away.
      They really need miraculous rule changes to save the sport.

      And btw, Mercedes has been topping sales for over 2 decades; their current involvement in F1 is no game changer. (BMW’s growth has been quite a bit stronger the last couple of years.)

    12. tl;dr:
      1. Mercedes have been so successful since 2014 in F1, they might want to retire before this period of dominance ends, because then they will be remembered as “a winning team”.
      2. Mercedes are (apparently) being criticised by fans because they win so much that it’s making F1 boring.
      3. Mercedes won’t be able to be as dominant when the new cost cap is introduced.
      3. A big boss at Mercedes wants to save money and focus on developing self-driving and electric cars. This conflicts with their being in F1 because F1 cars have petrol engines and human drivers.
      4. F1 may face increased competition for fans from Formula E.
      5. The R&D benefits of F1 may not be as great in future, due to more standardisation of parts and the cost cap.
      6. Mercedes is expected to lose its financial bonus under a new revenue system.

      Points 2 and 1/3 contradict one another. It will either benefit Mercedes to experience more competition, or it won’t.
      Point 1 seems rather childish to me. “Na na na, I’m quitting so I win for evaaarrr.” I like to think the adults in charge of Mercedes F1 don’t really feel that way. Mercedes may have quit in the 1950s partly based on such reasoning, but more recently McLaren and Ferrari have both experienced prolonged dominance followed by a more barren spell, yet carried on competing.
      Regarding point 3, there’s certainly a political element involved in claiming to have plans to become more environmentally friendly. This may not turn out to be entirely true.
      Regarding point 5,

      Motor manufacturers participate in Formula 1 for three main reasons – technology transfer, brand awareness and vehicle sales

      I think prestige and esprit are also an important motive: the same reason rich people want to own football clubs.

      Overall, I don’t see why Mercedes in particular are more likely to quit than any other F1 team. As long as a fizzy drinks company finds it worthwhile to run two teams, there’s every reason for Mercedes to carry on.

    13. The idea of folding Mercedes-AMG F1’s R&D into road car development at M-B is appealing to think about but doesn’t withstand much scrutiny. The overwhelming focus in F1 is iterative aerodynamic development for very draggy cars with lots of downforce, and that almost no practical application for road cars.

      Plus you can’t discount the fact that engineers go into racing because they want to work under the kind of pressure that racing creates. They don’t want to spend six months redesigning the hinge on the hatch of an A-Class to save manufacturing a few euros.

    14. Also, there is very little credible tech transfer from F1 to road cars these days—not that there ever was much. That happens in endurance racing. Just look at the tech Audi brought to the road from its Le Mans program—TSFI engines, TDI engines, laser headlights and so on. I can’t think of any tech that’s crossed from F1 into road cars in the last decade unless you count the Mercedes-AMG Project One.

      1. @jonathan, except I believe that Audi actually had to pay royalties to Mitsubishi for some of the systems that Audi used on their TSFI engines – both for the R8 and for their later road cars.

        Magnetti Marelli actually invented the fuel injection systems that were later used by companies such as Audi, but they sold the patent rights to Mitsubishi in the early 1990s. It’s why the first TSFI type systems began appearing in Japan in the mid to late 1990s, several years before Audi ever started using it – so, whilst Audi might state that it was an adaptation from the R8, that system was in turn an adaptation of an existing road going system that quite a few Japanese manufacturers had introduced several years earlier.

        I’d also strongly question claiming TDI as an example too, since Dr Ullrich indicated in the past that it was actually the opposite situation – that the racing team was adapting technology that the wider VW Group was developing for their road cars, as the road division had access to far greater financial and technical resources. Indeed, I believe he pointed out that the commercially available systems that were used on their road cars were actually more advanced than the ones used on cars such as the R10 in some areas – for example, being able to operate at higher fuel injection pressures than the ACO’s regulations permitted LMP1 cars to use.

    15. The reason they won’t quit is FERRARI. Ferrari have made themselves synonymous with F1, and their brand is one of the strongest among all brands in the entire world. This is the example Mercedes have to follow.

      1. I’m not so sure for 2 reasons. Firstly, when you think of Ferrari, you think of F1. They are (to me at least) an F1 team that also makes supercars. Mercedes are a car manufacturer that also have an F1 team. If Ferrari weren’t in F1, I think they’d sell less cars whereas I don’t think it would affect Mercedes at all.

        Secondly, Mercedes quitting whilst on top would do a huge amount of damage to Ferrari’s credibility – every win would be soured by the fact that people will say they only won because Mercedes aren’t there. It’d be like if Hamilton retired and Bottas beat whoever Mercedes brought in to the Championship. It’d feel a bit hollow because you’d know it wouldn’t have happened if Hamilton was still there.

    16. All companies need to advertise, it pays and they also collect tax allowances for it. I’d expect Mercedes know how much money they’d have to spend to equal the advertising they’re getting F1. Viewers and spectators may be leaving F1 in droves, but all of them know the quality of Mercedes cars.

      So much fuss about Formula E, but it’s little more than badge racing. What are the differences between the Audi, BMW and Renaults racing FE? For the most part, it’s the paint jobs. And FE is pretty dreadful to watch or follow. There’s a guaranteed Red Flag in every race, laps of safety car and most results declared after the races have finished. Mercedes could probably enter a team run from a shed, where the bought in parts could be assembled.

      As for the new MD of FOM, what do you think Ross Brawn has been hanging around for? Brawn appears to be involved in every aspect of LMs running of F1, he’s a proven team leader and probably has friends in all the current teams.

      1. Correct, the exposure F1 gives Mercedes is HUGE!
        And replacing this would cost a hell of a lot.

    17. Magnus Rubensson (@)
      26th June 2019, 19:50

      Sometimes I wonder if F1 today has reached a form of perfection. Cars are extremely reliable, and there are signs that “largest corporate budget” will have a massive advantage. This is not likely to change. So perhaps it is time to think about where to go from here.
      It seems to me the large corporate motor industry has decided to go electric anyway. This is also what governments want. So the “development side” of racing will be more likely to take place in Formula E in the future.
      There would not be much more development of the “combustion engine” anyway (or even hybrids).
      Bearing this in mind, perhaps it is time for F1 to morph into a spec series similar to Indycar.
      Personally I would like to put forward the idea of F1 using spec V10 engines (and/or V8/V12) and also a spec chassis. Massive savings – meaning opportunities for new teams to enter.
      A new theoretical Grand Prix spec series could ditch the “worldwide” races. Let Formula E become global if the large corporate interests have already decided this is the Future. Best of luck to them, go and race in Asia and Australia and South America by all means.
      But Grand Prix Racing should return back to Europe where it belongs. There should be no more than 8 races per year to avoid devaluation. My modest track suggestions, I’m sure there are other venues that could work just as well:

      GB: Brands Hatch
      BE: Spa
      FR: Le Mans Sarthe
      DE: Nurburgring Nordschleife
      CZ: Brno
      PT: Estoril
      ES: Jarama
      IT: Vallelunga

      One more thing: bring the grid girls back. :)
      Fire away …

      1. That already exists. It’s called the Boss GP series.

        1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
          27th June 2019, 7:27

          While my brain was busy (almost) working I totally forgot about the Boss series. Thanks for reminding me.
          Next race: Assen on 21 July. And Brno on the race list (8 Sept), great. :)

    18. My goodness Dieter, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind, but that was excellently put. The suggestion really does put the cat amongst the pigeons, and everything that’s said could very well come to pass.

    19. Dieter, do you think that the big 3 (or big 4 if we include Renault) are trying to do the same as they did last time and angling for a financial incentive to commit to another 5 years or so?

      In reality the teams actually have the “power” when it comes to negotiating with Liberty because without Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault (and Red Bull) they can’t possibly generate the sort of interest and income that F1 currently enjoys.

      I know there’s a school of thought that suggests that F1 should go back to the days of small independent teams but I can’t see that working financially for Liberty.

      The end of 2020 is approaching rather rapidly and your article just underlines the fact that there’s a gian game of chicken going on. You could almost write 3 more and just substitute the name of manufacturer such is the power that collectively those 4 have over Liberty (and had over Bernie)

      That Bernie came up with a solution to lock them in until 2020 (even when it became apparent some of them were going to go backwards in the WCC) was testament to him being able to be somewhat “creative”. I’ve yet to see Liberty offering incentives for any of the teams to continue and wonder whether or not the6 have really thought through the ramifications of the impact of one or more of the teams like Mercedes electingbto leave.

    20. My opinion is that Mercedes will leave when their contract is up. The future of automobiles appears to be something other than burning fossil fuels and Mercedes like other manufactures will have to take the position that they can’t be caught on the wrong side of that shift (the Beta to everyone else’s VHS if you will, which we older folk will remember). Thus they can’t afford to keep pumping dollars into F1 when the budget cap means they really won’t be able to develop anything new.
      My guess is they will push all their chips into Formula E (Ferrari and Renault may join them) and it will become the development platform for automakers.

    21. Hands down one of the best articles …
      Keep up the great work Keith & Dieter (love your work)

    22. You can all dream on. They arw here to crush the Ferrari legacy. They are in the long term. If they win another 6-7 consecutive championships both the driver as the constructors they will be the F1 numer 1 force for the history. And the younger generation of F1 audience will mostly be Mercedes fans. They will grow in the Silver era. Theyr dads and grandparets, yes will be ferrari fans, but the future lies to Mercedes. Its very important to crush every opossition and to have more championships, wins pole than Ferrari.

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