Former Bridgestone F1 guru Kees van der Grint was interviewed on RTL GP Slipstream program recently on Dutch TV, and put forward a persuasive argument pointing toward a Mercedes exit from Formula 1.
Grint has connections to the paddock and speaks to many inside teams and has confirmed the existence of a rumour that has been circulating over the Russian Grand Prix weekend. Mercedes might well leave F1 sooner rather than later.
Obviously the biggest news of the weekend, away from the racing, was that McLaren will become a Mercedes customer yet again in 2021, leaving Renault after just 3 seasons.
Both McLaren and Mercedes have a long history together starting back in 1995 and ending in 2014 with the switch to the ill-fated Honda works deal under previous McLaren boss Ron Dennis.
Now McLaren returns to Mercedes power under the new team principal Andreas Seidl and that instantly raised questions as to the future of Mercedes in Formula 1. Under the current rules, a supplier can only provide three teams with engines and Mercedes now has a deal with McLaren, Racing Point, Williams and of course its own works team.
“Mercedes has already advised McLaren to modernise its own wind tunnel again and to put all the facilities in order so that they can really make the step to the top. Then it seems that Mercedes wants to get rid of its own team.” says Grint.
“The new boss of Mercedes isn’t a big fan of Formula 1, but he is a big fan of Formula E. The team isn’t going to start there for nothing and I think they’ll take a look at the first season. They have already told Mercedes that the development of the combustion engine is over, so their goal in Formula 1 will be gone.”
In many ways, Grint is only confirming the logical thoughts that many astute F1 fans already have surmised. With the push to the electrification of road cars, as a marketing tool, F1 has no future for car manufacturers under its current guise.
The proof of the pudding will be how Mercedes takes to the new 2021 regulation set, obviously if the rules mandate significant spending to stay at the top, which they of course will, then Mercedes are unlikely to pull the plug straight away having spent the money.
Wolff denies the rumours saying:
“We have a factory team and then the various alliances with our customers,
“No, the deal with McLaren is not an indication that we, as a factory team, will not be around.”
But yet Mercedes still hasn’t committed to 2021 F1.
“We would like to understand how Formula 1 will continue, how it will evolve, but we would prefer to remain as a factory team,” confirmed Wolff.
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