Wolff: Mercedes 'risks' making McLaren rivalry with F1 engine deal

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff acknowledges there is a "risk" in supplying engines to McLaren from 2021 because it has the potential to rival his own team

Wolff: Mercedes 'risks' making McLaren rivalry with F1 engine deal

McLaren has struck a deal to return to being a Mercedes customer after its current Renault arrangement ends next year, which will end a six-season spell apart for the two former partners.

Since it stopped using Mercedes engines McLaren has failed to score a podium and its winless run stretches back to 2012, but Wolff believes McLaren's progress and F1's rule changes in '21 could present Mercedes with a serious challenge.

Wolff said: "A new era is going to start in 2021 with compressed grids, with more competition, and we believe that from a PU side there is more learning for us in this exercise, with more competitive customers adding to the two [Racing Point and Williams] that we have.

"And we rate McLaren strongly. The steps that Zak [Brown, McLaren F1 CEO] and Andreas [Seidl, McLaren team principal] have initiated certainly look very promising.

"The advantages outweigh the potential deficits of fighting a hard competitor like McLaren in the future."


McLaren split from Mercedes, initially to Honda, because it did not believe it could challenge the works team in the V6 turbo-hybrid era.

Two years ago, when McLaren and Honda separated, Mercedes was not interested in reviving its old partnership.

Wolff only said "the situation has changed a little bit", though McLaren's position as an established midfield team now may be a factor in that - as the tables here show McLaren's dramatic slump as Mercedes' works team has thrived in the current engine era.

Mercedes vs McLaren

With the same engine (2010-14)

Mercedes McLaren
Wins 20 18
Podiums 46 49
Poles 27 10
Drivers' championship 1 0
Constructors' championship 1 0
Points 1582 1632

Without the same engine (2015-19 so far)

Mercedes McLaren
Wins 69 0
Podiums 141 0
Poles 74 0
Drivers' championship 4 0
Constructors' championship 4 0
Points 3362 296

But Wolff also said there were more arguments in favour of the deal than against it.

"We learned it was an advantage having more power units out there," he said.

"There's maybe a process and logistic question, because everybody needs to be supplied at the same time, but there is more upside in it going forward.

"There is a financial upside, so it's a cashflow question which is helpful on the power unit side.

"Overall, many pros. There is one risk in this: that if McLaren does a good job, they will push hard, and maybe benchmark us in a way to say 'that's the same power unit, and you guys are not doing a good enough job'.

"But where we are now, seven years into the hybrid era, we are ready for that step."

shares
comments
F1 teams 'pushed and pulled all over' by 2021 rules talks

Previous article

F1 teams 'pushed and pulled all over' by 2021 rules talks

Next article

FIA and FIM to work together to improve safety in motorsport

FIA and FIM to work together to improve safety in motorsport
Load comments
How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1 Plus

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1

Uncertainty over the shape of the calendar doesn’t just vex the fans and the commercial rights holder. MARK GALLAGHER explains at how race promoters have been pushed to the financial brink

Hamilton at 100 wins: In his adversaries’ words Plus

Hamilton at 100 wins: In his adversaries’ words

Some 18 drivers have finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton on his way to 100 wins. Three of those recall their battles with Formula 1’s centurion and give their personal insights into the seven-time world champion on his rise to unchartered territory

Russian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Russian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 Russian GP was decided by late-arriving rain that allowed some to climb and caused others to plummet. But the events which played out beforehand are equally significant when considering the all-important driver ratings

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021
How Mercedes made the “blind faith” call that won Hamilton his 100 milestone at Sochi Plus

How Mercedes made the “blind faith” call that won Hamilton his 100 milestone at Sochi

Until rain turned the Russian Grand Prix on its head in the closing stages, Lando Norris was set to convert his first Formula 1 pole position into a maiden win. But having recovered well from being shuffled back at the start, Hamilton and his Mercedes team called the changing conditions spot-on for a landmark 100th F1 victory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021
Why momentum is again behind Australia’s aces Plus

Why momentum is again behind Australia’s aces

At the Italian Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo turned around a troubled F1 season and, in F2, Oscar Piastri demonstrated once again that he is a potential star of the future. BEN EDWARDS weighs up the prospects of F1 having two Australian stars

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2021
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2021
The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2021
The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021