Current F1 teams in discussion with Mercedes to become customer cars

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado leads Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton around a bend at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.

Sam Bloxham

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff disagrees with the suggestion that the struggling F1 teams are not interested in customer cars – and says that three of them have already been in touch with Mercedes to discuss the option.

Wolff would not officially confirm which teams were involved. However, given Toro Rosso’s relationship with Red Bull, and the fact that Williams is regarded as a top team and is in good financial health, that leaves a very small pool of potential candidates – one that includes current Mercedes partners Lotus and Force India.

“I think we have to have a contingency plan in place,” said Wolff of the concept. “And customer cars, or franchises, we’ve seen it in other sports, we’ve seen that in NASCAR, and it functions pretty well. If the contingency is about supplying our cars to customer teams, hopefully current teams, then yes we would be looking very much into it, Obviously it’s a case of how you refinance that, and what the sporting and technical regulations around that are. I wouldn’t rule that out.”

When told that all the midfield teams had told the media that they didn’t want to run customer cars he said: “It’s interesting that they say that because three of them came to see me yesterday [to ask] whether we could supply customer cars to them. So it’s not true. I think it’s a good model, as a contingency plan it works, and if we can find a business plan around it, we shouldn’t rule it out.”

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