This morning I took part in a teleconference with two of the principals of the Mercedes F1 team, Nick Fry and Norbert Haug.
The conference was called to discuss the name change for the F1 team, which will incorporate Mercedes’ high performance brand AMG and leverage the name through increased exposure on F1’s world wide media platform.
It will be called Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
This is entirely logical and will help the company to increase the value it gets from involvement in the sport.
But there was also a chance to get the company’s reaction to the news of Ferrari and Red Bull withdrawing from FOTA and I asked both men if they can see a future for the organisation, despite the departures. Both know that the road ahead will be difficult and I sensed that they feel that there is a chance to bring Ferrari back into the fold, if they change some things about the way it is run.
It is increasingly clear that Ferrari quit because the trust has been eroded with Red Bull in particular and they feel that FOTA has been toothless in dealing with the situation.
The rump of FOTA, the nine teams still in the organisation, will meet tomorrow to plot the next steps and there is some punchiness on the part of teams like Mercedes and McLaren, who feel that the organisation is still badly needed and can find a way to work with the two outsiders on cost control in F1.
“I think it is absolutely vital that FOTA is existing,” said Haug. “The aims that we are having, the targets, are very important and I think it is up to the so-called top teams to really balance it out.”
“We’ve certainly hit a bump in the road,” said Fry. “But I believe that work will continue in the background to try and resolve this and we will do whatever we can to support that. It’s obviously quite a difficult time at the moment and clearly we, Mercedes AMG, are very supportive of cost control in Formula One,” he added.
“It’s a difficult thing to achieve when everyone is so competitive but we certainly will work with others to try and fulfil the aim of an RRA. I think even though Ferrari have withdrawn at the moment they also are intent on finding a solution to this.”