Daimler CEO dismisses Mercedes F1 exit speculation

Mercedes has won the last six drivers’ and constructors’ championships in Formula One. Clive Mason/Getty Images3:18 PM ISTReuters and ESPNWorld champions Mercedes are not preparing to pull out of Formula One, Daimler Chief Executive Ola Kaellenius said on Wednesday.Autocar and the racefans.net website reported Wednesday that the subject of whether Mercedes should leave the sport as a constructor would be discussed at the next board meeting of parent body Daimler.”Not true,” Kaellenius said on the sidelines of the German Auto Industry annual reception in Berlin when asked if Mercedes were planning to leave F1.Autocar said the next board meeting was believed to be scheduled for Feb. 12, but a Mercedes source told Reuters that was not the case.Mercedes have won the last six successive drivers and constructors’ titles, with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton chasing his seventh this year in the final season before a major rules overhaul. Hamilton has been linked to a future move to Ferrari in media speculation, with the Italian team open about having had talks with him last year.The current commercial agreement with teams and Formula One expires at the end of the year and a new deal has yet to be agreed. Mercedes also compete in the electric Formula E series and Daimler is investing heavily in electric vehicles.The carmaker warned this month that its earnings had halved in 2019 and it faced further charges of up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) related to diesel pollution. Autocar cited ‘high-placed sources’ suggesting that the decision to leave F1 was under serious consideration in Stuttgart.Mercedes are committed to remaining as an engine provider, however, with McLaren signed up to switch from Renault to the German power units next year.Team principal Toto Wolff is also a shareholder in Mercedes F1 and said at the end of last year that Daimler’s future involvement would rely on the team making financial sense.”I think I am the one who is responsible for the motor racing activities, but I’m also the first one to acknowledge that in times when the auto industry is changing that all activities need to be looked at,” he said in November. “Formula One and motor racing generally is an activity that we believe is powerful, our core DNA. The first ever Mercedes was a race car.”I think we need to become more efficient, I think we need to provide a solid business case. We need to reduce the contribution from Daimler into our exercise, and if we are able to achieve that, then we’re in Formula One for the long term.”Mercedes will launch its 2020 F1 car on February 14.

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