Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says Mercedes is not changing its mind “every year based on success or failure” and is in Formula 1 long-term.
With Honda leaving Formula 1 after 2021 and the series somewhat lacking in manufacturers, and with BMW and Audi withdrawing from Formula E, Autosport asked Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff about the relationship between big manufacturers and motorsport.
“I think there’s a few reasons behind coming and going, and the most important one is the return on investment,” explained the Austrian.
“If you’re not able to generate returns, be it on the branding or marketing side, or on technology transfer, or simply by financial terms, sooner or later people on the board are going to say, “Well, why are we doing this?”
“And this is absolutely clear. You need to get something out of it. If your returns are not good enough for the industry standard, or compared to the other activities you deployed, one day, you’re going to pull the plug on these activities.
“And on top of that, if it’s not successful, and not even the branding side benefits from it, if I were on the board, I would also consider doing that.”
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However Wolff says, for Mercedes, motorsport is not just an investment, it is its “DNA”.
“The difference between how we [Mercedes] are looking at things in motor racing is that we are considering the sport as our DNA; we are building road cars, and we are building racing cars, and the first car from Mercedes was actually a racing car.
“We are not changing our mind every year based on success, or failure. We’ve gone through various periods of pain as Mercedes in Formula 1, as an engine supplier, but also as a team.
“When you look back at the years from 2010 until 2013, three full seasons, we weren’t competitive, and only in ’13, the odds changed a little bit before being successful in 2014.
“There’s one thing all the capital and all the resource can’t buy in Formula One: that is time. You need to have the patience, you need to have the long term view to reap the benefit in the future.
“At Board Level people come and go or people swing with what the markets want – the electrical story – corporates can swing that way. And I totally accept that; if I was in their situation, I would consider that.
“But Daimler has never been that way. And this is why we are in F1 today and obviously with the success that that we’ve had.
“We could have been out of the sport in 2013, if we wouldn’t have been able to cope with the painful years,” concluded Wolff.