Toto Wolff said the new five-year partnership with INEOS shows that Mercedes is committed to Formula 1 for the long-term.
Mercedes has dominated F1 over the past six years, winning an unprecedented six drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles. With Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler looking to reduce its overall budget, the F1 operation’s future has been called into question in some sections of the media. But Wolff explained in today’s press conference that this new partnership with INEOS highlights Mercedes’ commitment even as negotiations continue regarding a new commercial contract beyond this season.
“We are in this for the long-term,” Wolff said. “This is what we do: We build race cars and we build road cars. Formula 1 is the halo platform for hybrid engineering, something that is not communicated enough because it was talked down at the beginning of the hybrid era. It’s something we should put more emphasis on.
“We like the platform but at the same time we are in negotiations with the rights holders and things need to be sorted out. But (this new) partnership indicates our wish to continue our successful journey in Formula 1.
“It’s an ongoing process and it’s a complicated set of contracts – a tri-lateral contract between the FIA, the commercial rights holder and all the teams; and the devil lies in the detail. I wouldn’t want to commit to a specific date because there are (several) topics that remain to be agreed on. It’s a work in process and clearly there is the will and the wish of all of the stakeholders to come to a close before we embark on the 2021 season, because that would be an uncomfortable situation.”
Wolff firmly dismissed a recent report that Mercedes would discuss walking away from the sport at a February board meeting, emphasizing the importance of the F1 activity to Daimler as a brand.
“Formula 1 has always been a great provider of headlines over the winter break and by the sheer lack of racing results and controversy on track, dropping a bombshell of a headline online always helps. Still, I am always surprised that there is some lunatic out there that writes something on a website and it gets picked up; but (that one) was a complete nonsense story that was put straight on the following day by the CEO of Daimler.
“With everything we do, we question if it is the right activity. We, as Daimler today, see the advantages that Formula 1 as marketing platform gives us. We see it in the data. Formula 1 is one of the greatest returns on investment that we do, (but) there are numbers thrown out in the public that are simply untrue.
“This is an exercise that costs little in comparison to the billions in marketing value that is being generated. I strongly believe we have developed from a brand that was for the elderly to one for the young, and we see in the statistics that the average age of our customer has come down a lot.
“AMG provides a large chunk of the profits of Daimler. Emotion is important and every marketing activity that is out there is to create emotion – and this is what we do, we provide emotion. So these headlines get created over the winter and I didn’t like that one because we have 2,000 people worried about their jobs and that one was just nothing.”