Following Honda's withdrawal and question marks over the long-term future of a number of Formula 1's manufacturer-backed teams, doubts have now been raised about the prolonged participation of two of the car makers seen to be the most committed to the sport – BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
According to German publication Focus
, a management board vote called by Daimler AG chief executive Dieter Zetsche – as to whether Mercedes should continue its successful 13-year association with McLaren – was only narrowly carried in favour, by three votes to two. The Stuttgart marque is currently McLaren's largest shareholder.
Meanwhile, the magazine surmised that should BMW achieve its stated objective of world championship glory in the top flight this year, then the Bavarian manufacturer too may re-think its long-term plans, with car makers around the globe all being forced to re-assess their priorities in the wake of the international economic downturn.
F1's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone recently revealed his desire for the manufacturers to pledge their long-term future to the sport so as to 'prevent the kind of thing we have seen with Honda'.
“If they did, we could sue the arse off them if they left,” the 78-year-old explained. “They wouldn't like that.”
Aside from Mercedes and BMW, Ferrari, Renault and Toyota constitute Formula 1's remaining car makers.