Mercedes boss in Abu Dhabi for F1 talks
28 October, 2009
Oct.27 (GMM) Daimler and Mercedes chief Dieter Zetsche (above with Heikki Kovalianen, Norbert Haug and Lewis Hamilton) will travel to Abu Dhabi this week for the last race of the 2009 formula one season.
German language reports in Auto Motor und Sport and Motorsport Aktuell claim he will head talks about Mercedes’ new plans for its grand prix foray in 2010 and beyond.
It is expected that Mercedes, with a 40 per cent shareholding in McLaren, wants to step away from that British team in favour of the new drivers’ and constructors’ champions, Brawn GP.
McLaren and Mercedes are however tied together by exclusive contract through 2011, making it likely that the pair will stay together until then.
Mercedes, however, reportedly wants to ramp up its collaboration with Brawn immediately; possibly by taking a 75 per cent stake in the team and having it held for now by Daimler shareholder AABAR. AABAR is an Abu Dhabi state-owned investments company.
Meanwhile Norbert Haug has played down but not denied reports that Abu Dhabi will this weekend stage crucial talks about Mercedes’ changing approach to formula one.
Reports this week said the German carmaker’s chairman Dieter Zetsche and other officials will be at the Yas Marina Circuit not only to discuss ramping up the collaboration with Brawn, but also dismantling the one with long-time partner McLaren.
Haug, Mercedes’ competition director, said in a telephone conference call that there was “nothing new to say” except that the marque has “options (about) how we present ourselves in formula one”.
“There are no signatures,” he confirmed, pointing out that the presence of Daimler officials in Abu Dhabi is not unusual, since the group is 9.1 per cent owned by a government investment arm.
Haug also referred to the exclusive contract with McLaren, which extends through 2011.
“If we want to do something McLaren has to agree and when McLaren want to something we have to agree,” said the German.
“I can only assure you that we have a long term-basis association. Everything else is speculation about which we do not comment.”
Pictured above: Dieter Zetsche with Heikki Kovalianen, Norbert Haug and Lewis Hamilton