Mercedes considering Ferrari-Haas style F1 partnership with a midfield team
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Posted By: Editor   |  09 May 2018   |  5:20 pm GMT  |  56 comments

Following the successful collaboration model between Ferrari and Haas in F1, Mercedes have put the feelers out about creating a similar model with another midfield F1 team.

Haas, the American team who joined the Formula One grid for the 2016 season, formed a technical partnership with Ferrari, the result of which sees Haas supplied with power units, transmissions, suspension components, hydraulics and electronics. Essentially, all components which are legally allowed to be supplied by Ferrari, have been supplied by Ferrari.

Outsourcing these components gave Haas the opportunity to be competitive straight away; they scored points in three of their first four races and have so far seen a year-on-year pace increase.

The success of this partnership was in stark contrast to the demise of Formula One’s most recent additions to the grid – Manor, Caterham and the Hispania Racing Team – since the start of the decade.

However, rival teams have taken issue with this partnership and have previously called on the FIA to look into the working relationship between Ferrari and Haas.

Despite this, the success of the model is evident, and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff suggested that Mercedes may follow suit, supplying either Williams or Force India, who already use Mercedes power units.

“We have seen that the system between Ferrari and Haas has worked, it has worked for both,” said Wolff. “It’s an interesting revenue filler for Ferrari, and I think in terms of synergies, there is a lot you can work on, and it has functioned for Haas.

“They are a very competitive team without having built on a legacy, or without having built on know-how that would have taken years and years to collect. So far the system is very successful, and of course our thinking goes in that direction – whether it is Williams or Force India to collaborate.

Whether or not either Force India or Williams might choose to expand on their existing partnerships is debatable. Both are proud to be F1 constructors and have fiercely defended the current model against the creep of customer car teams in F1, which is in the interests of the manufacturers, but not the independent constructors.

For wealthy individuals or investors looking to own an F1 franchise without the need to have staff numbers of 400+ and the overheads that come with it, customer car teams would be attractive.

Williams are the third-oldest team in the sport and have always been the designers of their own cars, but it is a team currently in a transitional period.

Paddy Lowe was brought in from Mercedes to lead a change in car design philosophy, which has so far proven tricky to execute. If this year’s car continues to be troublesome, could Williams use this model – instead of persisting with a design that isn’t working – as an interim solution from next year before an overhaul in the regulations for 2021?

Force India meanwhile are a much younger team and would probably consider such a partnership as less of a knock to their heritage. Whilst they have been resistant to the idea, they’ve stopped short of completely ruling it out.

The potential cost-saving would be beneficial to either team. Williams have their Advanced Engineering arm of the business, but also receive backing from their drivers Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin. Meanwhile, Force India receive backing/discounts for using Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Despite Mercedes toying with the idea of a more in-depth partnership, Wolff added that whilst they would have capacity for 2019, they are in no rush to sort something out.

“But we are in the middle of a tough fight for this 2018 championship, so we need to prioritise.”

“We can do something for 2019. We have certain capacity.”

“We are not that far,” said Wolff. “The devil is in the detail. It would be a long-term project and not something where you can expect a huge impact for 2019. You need two or three years to ramp up.”

All images: Motorsport Images

What are your thoughts? Do you think either Williams or Force India should further collaborate with Mercedes? Leave your thoughts in the section below.

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1

This sounds like it will be perfect McLaren pr. Do we start the petition now to scrap the organge and move to silver ?

2

HAAS and Ferrari are cheating with the help of Dallara to get past the non listed parts rules, teams in the grid can see it but no one can prove it.

So of course Mercedes are going to copy the business model because they have no other option but to do so to keep ahead.

Toto warned about an arms race years ago in the hope that the FIA listed parts rules clarification would work out but obviously they aren’t working.

3

Williams are desperate for this

McLaren need it but are too up their own backsides to admit they are no longer a big player

Force India are the ideal candidate. Efficiently run, already punch above their weight and have an exciting young driver in Ocon.

4

Nothing can be certain until FIA and FOM finalises their 2021 engine-car rules. Mercedes has to accept those changes first and then discuss these possibilities. There will be no Mercedes B team if A team pulls out of F1. Ferrari are not going anywhere, so they have already done it.

Williams are in dire need of direction and money. Without new sponsors and Matini leaving, they are already on the back foot. Currently their car is a complete mystery to them. They can choose to be the B team and manage to compete, at least. ATM they are staring at possibility of folding their F1 team all together.

Force India is another option. With VJM caught in money swinging activities, their funds might dry up or team would be taken by another investor. At least, they have good engineers and drivers who can keep the team competitive even without Mercedes support (as B team).

5

Williams have won one race in 14years…yes, 14 years!!! The fact that they are still there says something. It says basically we’ll continue even if it means taking the wooden spoon. What a silly outlook. All this BS about we only exist to race might’ve been palatable in the days of the British Bulldog and whatever. Today it simply means zip. I had great hopes that Paddy Lowe would lead them out of the abyss but ATM they seem to be going nowhere..again. Other younger teams are beating them consistently now. IMO, they should either take a partner or go down the route that Haas has taken, as they clearly aren’t going anywhere soon. I’m sure they are trying their level best to be ‘great again’ but as Patrick Head once famously said when asked why they had dropped the ball. He said, ‘we’ve got some of the best facilities of all the teams and we’ve got a reasonable budget. What we seriously lack are ideas’. It appears that he was quite correct.

6

Here’s an idea.

Williams Honda.

Or just find somebody who’s good at reading what the rule book doesn’t say.

7

Mclaren should take up this offer/deal.

8

Like another poster said McLaren are too stubborn. They still think they are a top team! Wrong!

9

As a business plan, this makes a lot of sense for both parties. As a sport, the rules say you must build your own car, which is basically the tub & aerodynamic skin. Everything else can be out sourced.

I don’t see Williams taking an offer like this, as it would compromise their car design philosophy. For example, their own gearbox, which allows them to set their suspension points & gearing.

Force India may lose out big time if they reject such an offer. FI get discounts for running Ocon, & if Mercedes take their driver, FI would have to pay more for engines (no I don’t want to say Power Unit) & pay another driver, so I think VJ should be dialling Toto yesterday, to advance his team.

So yes, Mercedes should go for the business plan, but not with Williams, maybe with Force India, but perhaps with another startup team, as we all need more cars on the grid.

Formula 1 points have never been easy to obtain, so allow enough teams so we can bring back pre-qualifying, I say.

10

@ Mick…Correct me if i’m wrong but way back in 2011 Williams designed and implemented the ‘minature’ gearbox. Ir was so small that the drive shafts were fitted at extreme angles which in turn caused major problems with the universal joints. The company that supplied them, Pankl, in Austria evidently warned them that the angles being so extreme could cause problems! It did. The micro gearbox IIRC was not used the following year. This may or may not be accurate as it is some time back but that was my recollection.

11

@kenneth.

No, I think you’re right.

I believe they were trying to raise the back of the gearbox to allow the diffuser to start earlier, hence the extreme angles. . . . but don’t quote me on that.

12

At the end of the day, apart from the works teams, everyone else is running someone else’s PU. Sure the aero, chassis and such plays an important part of a good F1 car, but the PU is the real meat. IF for example, say RB or Haas wins the WCC and produces a WDC, how much can they shout? The real winners are the ones that supply them their PUs and other components. Haas had already taken that step towards being a junior Ferrari team (whether they acknowledge or deny it), the amount of Ferrari tech in there makes me wonder how much they can really be proud of themselves when so much of the performace is due to someone else. Might as well have Works primary and secondary teams only. At least then when we see a Merc going wheel-to-wheel with a Ferrari or Renault or Honda, we know they are indeed from their distinct elements. F1 does not need another ABC team coming in with aero from an independent designer, PUs, suspension, hydraulics, etc from Merc/Ferr/Ren/Hon. F1 needs more Works teams….then there will be true sporting rivalry.

13

Snap On F1 teams.

A new way to go.

Haas has proven thats the way to go.

Have your nose in the rear of a top manufacturer pays dividends on track. Ferrari helped out Haas and had the extra bonus of more hours in the wind tunnel.

Same goes for Mercedes if they align with Force India or another team.

Just feel sorry for the other minnow teams who have limited funds to afford such a pairing. The Snap on parts are still expensive.

In Moto gp you get some parts trickling downwards to independent teams. Sometimes its because the rider is signed to the bigger engine manufacturer/racing team. So parts are rapidly sent downwards except the other driver may not get the same parts, as he is actually signed up by the independent team. It’s political and abit unfair and stinks of nepotism at times. But independent teams will accept new parts that are proven to be successful anytime…so long as the Price Is Right.

You could end up with abit of a Matchbox Hot Rod F1 Car .

14

@ BK Flamer…talking of Moto GP what a cracker up until the big/huge/monstrous crash. That was some doozy there. Marquez is a demon.

15

Yes it was an exciting race up until the crazy merging of the riders. Marquez is unstoppable.

Though LeMan is a Yamaha track so it might get interesting especially now Honda has spent more money on sorting out the Official ICU box. Unlike Yamaha who spent more time on the chassis and forgot about the black box that delivers the power output evenly to the back wheel.

Was hoping Crutchlow would stay on his bike but even he said he picked the wrong tyres and set up.

Like to see Marquez ride for another team. As Rossi has won for a few teams so I stil rate him as the old guard Legend and G.O.A.T.

16

Moto GP? This is an F1 site!

17

It seems the F1 fan base can take a simple concept and make it a conspiracy theory. Buying parts is simply that-buying parts. Said parts are just parts like any other part. It makes no difference who makes the parts, they all serve the same function, so I am not seeing a competitive advantage for Haas or any future team, beyond time gained on learning curves. No, that does not mean they are “sharing technology” because there is a strict wall in that department when it applies to the chassis and design. Especially as it applies to the wind tunnel.

As I see it, these types of partnerships will not lead to an Indy car model. It just makes it easier for teams to come into F1 and up to speed faster.

18

” Ferrari helped out Haas and had the extra bonus of more hours in the wind tunnel.”

1. How do you know this as a fact since you stated it as a fact?

2. Google Haas, Ferrari, and wind tunnel and actually read the results.

3. You do know that Ferrari and Haas are separate teams with their own people using the wind tunnel?

It really p*$$es me off when people state BS as fact!

19
Jay J. Hector

I say bring back the true privateers like the Rob Walker Racing Team. RWRT never built their own car, but managed to win nine GPs, with Stirling Moss winning the first GPs for both a Cooper chassis and a Lotus chassis. Let the teams sell all the customer cars they want, and then have a pre-qualifying race for the privateers with the fastest four allowed to qualify for the actual GP Only the privateers can have one car teams. Let them buy a current car and then have to maintain it themselves. Let Stroll’s dad buy him a current Mercedes or Ferrari and then we’ll really see if he can drive.

20

I dont understand the logic behind this move. Does having a partnership with Ferrari makes them compete for the top step of the podium?. If not then it does not make sense. I see that this way of cost cutting will truly snuff out the Innovation which F1 is really known for. Force India in their 10 year history have shown that they are pound for pound the best team on the grid. They do it with innovating ways and have also been helped with the likes of Mclaren, Renault failing to deliver. But the same could have been applied to Torro Rosso who being a customer team for Redbull should have been the best of the rest.

21

Are these the first signs of the future of F1 becoming ‘a war of the clones’ ?

22

Im not so sure about Williams or Force India. FI seem to be doing as well as Haas without such a relationship, although it could save them money which could be spent of strengthening elsewhere. As for Williams, I thought their issues were Aero, they have the facilities to research that, but as i understand it, Merc would supply bit, not aero data or help. Im not entirely sure what becoming a Merc B team would really achieve for either. Assuming Merc were to be fair in their current supply to both, I wonder if it would be better for Merc to offer such a package to entice a new team in.

23

I cant stand Junior teams in F1….

They will always be the bridesmaid.

F1 is surely about winning?

Where s the glory in coming fifth every year?

I hope Willams dont sell out to the Stroll family but I think thats where they are going

24

“Williams are the third-oldest team in the sport and have always been the designers of their own cars, but it is a team currently in a transitional period.”

James being nice. It should really be: “but it is a team currently in a never ending downward spiral.”

25

my thoughts exactly as i read the article… cheers

26
Mansell Mania

There are in a downward spiral, in a whirlpool, on the way to meet the titanic!

27

How different is the Haas relationship from that of TR to the #1 Red Bull team back in the day when TR depended on the first team for much of their car design and construction?

Then there was Super Aguri and was it Honda? Although that may have been a case of using the previous years model substantially. Anyway FIA, for better or worse, stepped in and stopped both collaborations.

28

I would much prefer the 2021 rules kick in earlier and all the teams a bit more equally competitive. Doubt FI or Williams would bite before then.

29

Mr. James,

Rather off topic, but could you express your opinion on RedBull-Honda-Renault saga? And, is there any 3rd party analysis on efficiency of the engines?

I think Renault PU at the moment is better then Honda, but in the next year this could not be a case more, or the difference reduced to a very thiny margin.

30

I think Renault is catching up, but still has some reliability questions. Remember they said before the first race that they won’t have the definitive spec at the start.

Honda is working hard and has a car that allows the engine to operate reliably (not pushing the limits on cooling etc) so it’s a pure development year for them. Decision would have to be made to go Honda in the next couple of months to optimise the design for 2019 Red Bull and as Newey likes super tight bodywork, everything would have to be safe to make that call.

It’s a big call, for sure, but one senses it could happen

31
Richard Mortimer

Once FI or Williams go down that route, how easy will it be to get back (to being a full constructor)? Toto Wolff said 3 years. That’s 2019 to 21 before it really benefits. Hard to see FI or Williams jumping at this.

Maybe the FIA / F1 should ask both Renault and Mercedes to put up a contract for a new team each? That would make 12 teams on the grid. Plus, if Red Bull go with Honda, they could join up to do the same thing. Then, we have the full compliment of 13 teams! First time in years….!

32

It seems so obvious… why can’t those at the top see it?

blinded by self interest??

33
Michael Quinn

F1 really needs a couple more teams. Would be nice if someone took this opportunity from Mercedes to develop a new team entry instead of locking down one of the existing teams.

34

That raises the perennial question of prize money and it’s distribution. Currently prize money is only given at all to the top 10 teams, even whenHispania, Virgin and Lotus entered in 2010. Coming 11th (or 12th) is practically a bankruptcy notice for the team it happens to, until that is sorted out no more than 10 teams will be viable. The FIA, Liberty and previously Bernie all seem pretty happy with 20 cars too, so there’s little impetus for any change.

35

My worry about this model is what will happen to this “customer team” when Mercedes decide to leave F1?

Say Force India or Williams have been using Mercedes parts for 5 years but now the Mercedes board decide they’ve got everything they wanted from F1 so they’re going FE full time. Now they are going and the customer has lost the ability to construct its own cars so that could finish them too.

36

No no no no. It only serves to give the manufacturers more control and influence

37

A Mercedes collaboration with Force India would certainly make selling the team to a new buyer much easier. Buyers hate uncertainty and buying Mercedes technology at a somewhat fixed price would be very, very attractive.

38

I propose McLaren!

Signed,

Fernando

39

Williams would never go for it, I believe they don’t even take the Merc gearbox, still insisting on making their own. Force India is the only likely candidate. As far as I’m aware they already take the Merc box, and therefore the rear suspension, so a few more bits and bobs wouldn’t make much difference. Didn’t FI used to have a similar supply arrangement with McLaren when they both had the Merc engine? I certainly seem to remember them having some sort of cooperative going on, and with their traditional fourth place looking increasingly unlikely, it would make sense to get any help they can.

40

Simon Roberts left McLaren in 2008 to become FI CEO. After a year, he returned to McLaren. There was probably a lot of movement between the teams over a few years. Who knows if any IP moved around with the engineers.

41

Jonno, I’m sure they had an official arrangement.

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