Norbert Haug has dropped hints that Mercedes-Benz could increase the level of its Formula 1 involvement with Brawn GP – but where this leaves the Stuttgart manufacturer's relationship with long-time partner McLaren is unclear.
The current surprise world championship leaders forged a late single-year deal with Mercedes ahead of the start of the 2009 campaign for a customer supply of the three-pointed star's engines – but the outstanding and unheralded success of the ex-Honda F1 concern may now be prompting a rethink.
On top of that, though it owns a 40 per cent stake in McLaren, Mercedes is understood to be growing increasingly disillusioned with the Woking-based outfit's continuing poor performance so far this season – and furious at having had its name and reputation dragged through the mud for the second time in three years over the now infamous Melbourne 'lies' scandal.
Following the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona last weekend – a race in which Brawn duo Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello sped to another unchallenged one-two, whilst defending world champion Lewis Hamilton could manage no better than ninth place for McLaren – Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Haug perhaps tellingly remarked: “Being lapped is not what Lewis deserves; he delivered everything that was possible with his car – we just cannot handle the high-speed corners and need to dramatically improve over the next weeks and months. Thank God the Brawn guys saved our bacon again with our engine in the back.”
Whilst insisting that Mercedes does not wish to 'divert' its attention away from McLaren, Haug has since conceded that a greater degree of involvement with Brawn is not out of the question either, telling German broadcaster RTL
: “We have possibilities and options, and it has been offered to us.”