Still time to add third F1 car for 2016, says Mercedes' Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff believes it is not too late for Mercedes to enter a third car for 2016 should Formula 1 suddenly lose three teams over the next few weeks

Still time to add third F1 car for 2016, says Mercedes' Toto Wolff

Though American outfit Haas is joining the field, question marks hang over three current squads.

The futures of Red Bull and Toro Rosso are uncertain as neither team has a power unit supply for next season after deciding to end their relationship with Renault a year ahead of schedule.

Lotus should be taken over by Renault by the end of the season, but numerous hurdles still need to be cleared.

F1 rules dictate that should the grid fall below 18 cars then Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren would step into the breach to supply a third car.

Red Bull also has an agreement to do so, but is one of those whose exit could trigger the three-car move.

Although 2016 pre-season testing is just four months away, Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff feels his team would have little difficulty expanding to a third car if required.

Suggested to Wolff it was too short notice now, he told Autosport: "No. The question is about how to finance the additional car, but logistically, it is possible.

"We have crunched the numbers and I wouldn't want to quote them officially, but all the teams were asked to look at the numbers a while ago and it is all pretty similar, so financially viable."

Wolff has previously expressed his enthusiasm for three-car teams, and feels the driver market would be "energised" if they were introduced.

"It would enable the smaller teams to place drivers and raise revenue by having them in the car," said Wolff.

"It would give teams more TV exposure and more media coverage with having a third car.

"Also, it would give young drivers the chance of driving in a competitive car in a competitive environment, stepping up from junior categories.

"We haven't seen many young drivers getting into Formula 1 recently, apart from through the Red Bull programme.

"There are many boys out there who deserve to be in Formula 1, and this [third cars] would be a good solution, a good possibility of benchmarking them against the very best."

Even if the grid does not shrink, Wolff wants F1 to consider three-car teams anyway.

"It is important for the sport teams like Red Bull and Toro Rosso stay in Formula 1, not only to make up the numbers but because the brand is very important to Formula 1,"said Wolff.

"But you're responsible for your destiny, each of us.

"If it were the case some high-level people in Red Bull decided to pull out, a contingency plan would be to have three cars, so I don't see a scenario of having 18 cars being realistic.

"Now whether it is with Red Bull or without, I would rather have third cars and a grid of 26 or 28 cars in Formula 1."

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