Mercedes: To quit, not to quit, supply more teams?
29 April, 2009
Even if Mercedes was to pull out of Formula 1, it would not save its struggling parent Daimler money, an official said on Tuesday. Daimler reported a net loss of US $1.7bn for the recent January-March quarter.
“We look into our Formula 1 commitment every year. But even if we dropped out now, we wouldn’t be saving a cent because the contracts are long-term,” Daimler chief financial officer Bodo Uebber is quoted as saying by German press. But he pointed out that Daimler has “no sacred cows”, meaning that a future withdrawal from formula one cannot be ruled out.
Mercedes customer team, Force India, boss Dr Vijay Mallya is not concerned that a withdrawal from formula one of Mercedes-Benz could leave his Force India team without an engine supplier.
The Silverstone based team switched at the end of last year from Ferrari to Mercedes customer power. “We have a five-year contract with Mercedes-
Benz High Performance Engines and I don’t see any reason why that should not be fulfilled,” Indian billionaire Mallya told the German website motorsport-magazin.com.
He insisted there is a clear separation between Mercedes as a works partner of McLaren, and the German marque’s role as a formula one engine supplier. The possible implication is that, even if Mercedes should pull out, it could keep supplying customer engines. “I have no knowledge of the internal situation, but I have no doubts that Mercedes will fulfil the contract,” said Mallya.
Meanhwile, Christian Horner has refused to rule out the possibility of Red Bull switching customer engine suppliers at the end of the 2009 season.
The Milton Keynes based team’s Renault contract runs out this year, and reports have indicated a switch to Mercedes-Benz is a possibility for 2010 and beyond.
Team boss Horner, however, told Germany’s Sport Bild that Red Bull is happy with Renault, after the French marque was allowed to catch up its more powerful rivals over the winter amid the engine freeze. “For the moment it is my belief that Dietrich Mateschitz does not intend to negotiate with a new engine partner,” the Briton said. “Fortunately we have time.”
But Horner does not totally rule out a switch. “In these times, who knows what engine manufacturers are still going to be there in 2010?” he pointed out. “Ross Brawn has proved that it is possible to have a very good car even with a very new engine partner. In this case Mercedes is attractive, not only because of the engine.”
On Mercedes KERS system Horner said, “It seems to be the best system in the field,” he acknowledged. “It’s compact and has no negative effect on the car balance, which is really the fundamental problem of (other makers’) KERS (systems).”
As well as McLaren, Mercedes-Benz already supplies the Force India and Brawn teams.