Mercedes has expressed interest to collaborate with the newly-revamped Force India Formula 1 team.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO of Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, has said that they are keen to forge an alliance with Force India hoping that it will be as fruitful and beneficial as Ferrari’s relationships with Haas and Sauber.
Following the Force India take over by a consortium of investors led by Canadian Businessman Lawrence Stroll, the team under its new name Racing Point Force India has started afresh at the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend with a clean slate in championship standings.
Force India were, this month, placed into administration by London’s High Court before the Hungarian Grand Prix, as the team driver Sergio Perez has brought the action to “save the team”. Stroll and company later came forward to save the team and almost 400 jobs along with a fresh injection of funds to help pay off the creditors in full.
“Obviously a few years ago when Ferrari spotted the potential in collaborating closely with another team, it triggered a thought process with everybody else,” Wolff told had Motorsport.com. “And only Ferrari will know how much benefit they have generated, but there is benefit in such a cooperation if it is structured well.”
“No team wants to be a B-team, no team wants to be a junior team. Everybody wants their own success, and this is something you need to honour and respect in F1. I think if you can meet on eye level, a collaboration makes sense. But making it happen is not trivial.
“All of us are structured, all of us have processes in place that make sense, and evaluating potential opportunities is something which we will clearly do.”
However, teams like McLaren and Renault have voiced their concerns that the collaboration would unfairly impact other teams even if it has proved successful for Ferrari, Haas and Sauber. Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul said he had raised the issue with Formula 1 owners.
“It is true that we have sought reassurance from the commercial rights holder that in future it will not be a requirement to be part of a group of teams in order to be able to fight for championships or to fight for wins,” Abiteboul said.
“That’s definitely our ambition, to be in that position, but we don’t have right now the capacity or the strategy to form any particular alliance such that we would have a junior team or a partner team.”
“We have a partnership with McLaren on the engine side, which could be expanded with more technology, but that’s not really something that we want should be imposed on us as a model in order to be successful.”
Wolff said that he “absolutely understands” those concerns. “It’s interesting that the administration of Force India triggered these strong sentiments. Collaboration existed before between Ferrari and Haas, and then Sauber joined the closed party. And on the other side Toro Rosso and Red Bull have existed forever,” he said.
“But I completely understand the worries of McLaren and Renault on the other side. I think it’s just a matter of the right regulations in place to facilitate collaboration where you can save costs, and where you can find synergies – but maintaining the spirit of the F1 regulations, that this is a Constructors’ Championship, and should also stay one.”