Mercedes has hit back at reports some of its shareholders want the German marque to pull out of F1.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper has quoted two such shareholders – Michael Muders of the fund manager Union, and Henning Gebhardt, of DWS – as criticising Mercedes’ expanding push for F1 success.
“Mercedes has been behind for years, without consequence,” said Muders. “But Formula One is expensive and brings nothing to the (Daimler) group.”
Gebhardt added: “Formula one no longer enhances the image (of Mercedes), especially if we are in countries criticised of human rights violations.”
But Mercedes’ new F1 chairman Niki Lauda has rubbished the claims, telling Bild newspaper there is “no doubt formula one is developing positively”.
“There are more and more TV viewers, and we are going to more and more countries. This is an incredible growth and Mercedes benefits,” said the famous Austrian.
Meanwhile, Daimler spokesman Jorg Howe insisted: “Our involvement in F1 is not up for debate.
“We have created new structures to ensure long term success and will soon be on top.”
He is quoted by DPA news agency: “We do not want to pull out of Formula One. On the contrary.”
Lauda continued: “The marketing value (of F1) is always there, but clearly the value grows with success. We are building up a strong team and our shareholders will have to wait.
“Ferrari is in the same situation as us — we must catch up.”