Although currently living off Honda’s money for this year, Brawn have seemingly been quite casual when it comes to finding sponsors. Getting Richard Branson’s Virgin group of companies onboard was a good step, but recently the British entrepreneur has stated that he will not continue his sponsorship of the team for 2010, instead choosing to head elsewhere on the grid. But while the outlook may appear gloomy, Ross Brawn was adamant that all was okay and Nick Fry had said that the squad has backing for the next three years.
As reported in the Daily Telegraph this morning, current engine supplier to Brawn – Mercedes-Benz – might be about to buy into the team, furthering the company’s interest in the sport and adding to their portfolio of customers. Mercedes currently own 40% of the McLaren Formula One team, and their association with the Woking-based squad goes right back to 1995. Elsewhere on the 2009 grid, the car manufacturer also supplies engines and technical expertise to Force India, a team that ran very well in the recent Belgian Grand Prix.
It would seem the Mercedes-Benz engine is the most desired at the moment, and murmurings are afoot that Red Bull Racing are keen to rid their cars of the Renault V8 in favour of German engineering. This however goes against the FIA policy of only allowing two customers for each manufacturer (Brawn received special dispensation this year by unanimous agreement from all other competitors). And should Red Bull opt out of a Mercedes deal, Williams are said to be poised and could step in.
However, while Mercedes are powering all-and-sundry, it seems they want to increase their presence ever further in the sport, not seemingly content with supplying three teams, the possibility of a fourth as well as providing all official safety and medical cars to the sport. The Daily Telegraph are suggesting that Mercedes want to buy into the Brawn team.
If true, this would be good news for Brawn as it would help to secure the long-term future of the squad. It would ensure the team kept the Mercedes engine and would probably also mean receiving extra items like the KERS device that Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been using to great effect thus far in 2009.
What this speculation also suggests is that Mercedes actually make money out of their part-ownership and engine supply with McLaren. Mercedes would not want to buy further into the sport if it wasn’t already doing well. If Mercedes were losing money with McLaren, Force India and Brawn, they would be looking to scale back their operation, just as many other manufacturers are doing at the moment in the troubled economic climate. But to further invest strongly suggests that Mercedes do reasonably well out of the sport.
However, what appears to be the case and perhaps what actually is the case may differ. Earlier in the year, Daimler Board Member, Helmut Lense, stated that Mercedes should end its Formula One operations to help the company stem losses that almost all motor manufacturers are going through at the moment. While the company as a whole is losing money, it seems strange they are now rumoured to looking for further investment. Unless of course, and more than likely, the full picture is still hazy to all those standing outside the boardroom.