McLaren losing Mercedes? UPDATE #2 Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug has claimed that his company's interest in forging stronger relations with world champion Brawn GP should not have any affect on its long-standing partnership with McLaren.
Mercedes stepped in to provide engines for the Brawn effort at the last minute, following the team's winter resurrection from the ashes of Honda, and was rewarded with eight race wins and both world titles. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels for the first few races and consolidated after that, with the Briton claiming the drivers' crown and his team-mate third overall.
The success, and speculation about Brawn's financial situation, led to suggestions that Mercedes would seek to increase its investment - with the rumor mill the claiming that the German giant would look to back out of its deal with McLaren, despite holding a 40 per cent stake in the Woking operation. The ménage a trois is also thought to have scuppered Red Bull Racing's chances of running Mercedes engines in 2010, with McLaren apparently vetoing the move. Force India, which enjoyed something of a break-out season in 2009, also runs the German powerplants.
According to Reuters, senior Mercedes-Benz officials were at last weekend's inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to talk to both Brawn and McLaren, but Haug insisted that there was no desire to seek a divorce from the latter, despite rumors that McLaren might be looking to develop its own BMW-based engines as an alternative, becoming an entirely in-house F1 manufacturer.
"There is a very firm decision that we have a long-term commitment to our partner McLaren," Haug maintained, "Rather than going into speculation, I have to point out that this team works better together than ever before. To discuss other issues and other options that probably are in the background and that are internally discussed is just not the right thing to do.
"The only decision that is taken is that we are firm, here, partners and are connected for a long period of time." Yahoo EuroSport UK
10/28/09 (GMM) 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."10/27/09 The McLaren Formula One team and Mercedes will hold talks at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend to discuss details of an end to their partnership, according to the German magazine Motorsport Aktuell on Tuesday.
However an immediate end to their collaboration is ruled out as the two sides have a contract until 2012, it was reported.
There have been reports that Mercedes are interested in a larger engagement with Brawn GP, for which the German company is engine supplier.
Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug told German Press Agency dpa there was 'nothing new to say' on the speculation but that 'we have options how we present ourselves in Formula One.'
He added that Mercedes had an exclusive partnership with McLaren. 'If we want to do something McLaren has to agree and when McLaren want to something we have to agree,' he said.