Mercedes Divorces McLaren Weds Brawn GP: Motor Quotes and Mercedes-Benz Policy Purchasing

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Mercedes Divorces McLaren, Weds Brawn GP

2010 Mercedes Grand Prix car rendering

Mercedes announced that it - and its largest shareholder, Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments - has taken over the Brawn GP Formula 1 team, the winner of both the 2009 drivers’ and constructors’ F1 titles. Under the terms of the agreement, Mercedes gets a 45.1-percent stake, Aabar takes 30 percent, and the remainder is held by team principal Ross Brawn, CEO Nick Fry, and other team members. The team will henceforth be known as Mercedes Grand Prix and Ross Brawn has apparently committed himself to the organization on a long-term basis.

This is the first time that Mercedes has entered F1 as a full factory team since 1955, when it pulled out of the sport following the disaster at that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, when the Mercedes 300SLR driven by Pierre Levegh vaulted into the crowd, killing scores of spectators. Mercedes re-entered F1 in 1994 as an engine supplier to Sauber, before embarking on an association with McLaren in 1995 that led to two world titles for Mika HГ¤kkinen and one for Lewis Hamilton.

The most interesting aspects of the deal are these: first, McLaren is now officially divorced from Mercedes-Benz and has announced that it will buy back the 40-percent stake that the German company holds, although Mercedes will supply engines to the McLaren F1 team until 2015; and second, where’s world champion Jenson Button going to end up?

There’s little doubt that Mercedes wanted to have its own factory team a long while ago, but Ron Dennis at McLaren resisted the German company taking complete control of his organization. The relationship also became a little tetchy because of the SLR supercar program: ostensibly, this was a joint development between engineers in Stuttgart and Woking, but Mercedes essentially ran the show to the chagrin of McLaren personnel who saw the car get heavier and bigger than they desired. Originally, there was going to be a range of McLaren-Mercedes supercars, but that never happened. Instead, Mercedes built the SLS via its in-house AMG subsidiary while McLaren went ahead and produced its own mid-engined supercar, the MP4-12C. No doubt Mercedes didn’t want to be funding a company that competes with it in the marketplace.

As for Button, there have been rumors that he wasn’t satisfied with the monies being offered to him in contract negotiations for 2010, because he had taken a pay cut - from about $16 million to $3 million - to keep his job in 2009, when Honda pulled out of F1 and Brawn took over the reins. Most observers expect that Nico Rosberg, who is a German national, will go to Mercedes and that the team is also talking to Nick Heidfeld, who is out of a job because BMW pulled out of the series. The smart money is on Button going to McLaren, as he’s quick and a lot cheaper than Kimi RГ¤ikkГ¶nen: the Finn was released a year early from his contract at Ferrari and has said he wants to go to McLaren, but his reputed asking price is way higher than Button has been trying to get out of Brawn.

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Mercedes Divorces McLaren, Weds Brawn GP
Mercedes Divorces McLaren, Weds Brawn GP

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