Mercedes-Benz confirmed Monday that it was committed to Formula One for at least the next five years as part of an announcement of a new deal with petrochemicals giant Ineos as principal partner, one rung below title partner Petronas. Even in the face of Daimler cutting 15,000 jobs and cutting at least 1.4 billion euros from its budget by the close of 2022, team boss Toto Wolff says that F1 works for Mercedes.
Two weeks ago rumors hit the world wide web that Mercedes might pull its backing for the team that has already won everything and has nothing to prove. The rumor hinged on a Daimler board meeting, and discussions between Lawrence Stroll and Wolff to keep the team afloat under an Aston Martin banner. Things move fast in the silly season, and it seems the Daimler board decided to keep the team together beyond the 2020 season.
The domino effect continued on down the line and saw Lawrence Stroll move forward with his plan without the help of Wolff, bailing out Aston Martin and bringing the British marque onboard as title sponsor of the Racing Point team.
Mercedes has not yet secured an extension of its contract with ace driver Lewis Hamilton beyond the end of the 2020 season, but Wolff has expressed a desire to keep him onboard, and is confident Lewis wants the same.
The announcement from Mercedes-AMG F1 came today as part of a display event showing off the team’s 2020 season livery painted on the 2019 car. The 2020 car won’t be shown for a few more days now, but it’ll have this new livery, which is decidedly not boring ass.
The Ineos/Mercedes deal is for five years. According to reports from the event, billionaire Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe had this to say about the company’s previous experience in Formula One: “One formula team that added their engineers to the project. But it didn’t work because of them being ‘arrogant’ and ‘inflated’. Whereas, Merc team had a similar attitude as the Ineos people”. Who might Ineos have dealt with in the past which was arrogant? It could be literally any of them.
As always, contracts in motorsport are about as strong as the paper they are written on, but this does speak well of Mercedes’ confidence in its involvement in the so-called pinnacle of motorsport. Anything from a slowing global economy to a full-scale shift away from the visibly wealthy circus of Formula One could still tilt any OEM away from the sport, but for now Mercedes says it’s back for the long run.
Formula One lives on to fight another day.