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Lotus/Renault talks key to Manor-Mercedes F1 engine deal for 2016

Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff says a potential engine supply deal for Manor is on standby until current customer Lotus's future in Formula 1 is determined

Renault is poised to take over Lotus, with the deal set to edge closer on Monday as the French manufacturer is expected to pay off the team's HMRC debt.

Mercedes has customer agreements with Williams, Force India and Lotus and should a Renault-Lotus deal go through, it could have capacity to supply an alternative team, with Manor waiting in the wings.

"We like Manor a lot because there is a competitive edge to the whole story," said Wolff, referring to the team securing a last-minute rescue package to compete this season.

"If Manor gets the right chassis and engine it would be a pretty interesting narrative of how the team develops.

"But for us at the moment we are a little bit on standby as we need to understand what will happen with Lotus and then move from there.

"This is where we are."

Wolff said Mercedes is "very close" to making a decision regarding engine supply next year and that it will take matters into its own hands if Lotus and Renault do not decide their future soon.

"We are not in a position to give Lotus or Renault a deadline," said Wolff.

"But there needs to be a moment when Manor knows what is happening, and we need to know who we are supplying with engines.

"We are very close to that moment, to that decision. If they don't take the decision then we will decide."

Wolff added that there is the possibility of placing a Mercedes-backed driver with Manor as part of the deal, but added it would require Manor to make sure it could make it work financially.

He has alluded to Mercedes reserve and DTM racer Pascal Wehrlein getting such an opportunity.

"That is a possibility, but it needs many pieces of the jigsaw to come together, and it might well not happen," said Wolff.

"It could be an interesting scenario but the harsh financial realities mean Manor has to refinance themselves and raise the budget.

"I'm not sure we would be prepared to place a driver with budgets.

"They could probably raise [a budget] in the driver market if we were to supply engines as that could be an attractive offer for young drivers.

"It is a bit of a tricky situation. We haven't got a dedicated young driver programme.

"We've got Pascal who is with us, whose main focus is DTM and I don't want to take him away from that.

"He has done a great job in testing for us and he is a very exciting young driver but I'd rather like to see how DTM pans out."

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