Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug has claimed that his company's interest in forging stronger relations with world champion Brawn GP should not have any affect on its long-standing partnership with McLaren.
Mercedes stepped in to provide engines for the Brawn effort at the last minute, following the team's winter resurrection from the ashes of Honda, and was rewarded with eight race wins and both world titles. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels for the first few races and consolidated after that, with the Briton claiming the drivers' crown and his team-mate third overall.
The success, and speculation about Brawn's financial situation, led to suggestions that Mercedes would seek to increase its investment - with the rumour mill the claiming that the German giant would look to back out of its deal with McLaren, despite holding a 40 per cent stake in the Woking operation. The ménage a trois
is also thought to have scuppered Red Bull Racing's chances of running Mercedes engines in 2010, with McLaren apparently vetoing the move. Force India, which enjoyed something of a break-out season in 2009, also runs the German powerplants.
According to Reuters
, senior Mercedes-Benz officials were at last weekend's inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to talk to both Brawn and McLaren, but Haug insisted that there was no desire to seek a divorce from the latter, despite rumours that McLaren might be looking to develop its own BMW-based engines as an alternative, becoming an entirely in-house F1 manufacturer.
"There is a very firm decision that we have a long-term commitment to our partner McLaren," Haug maintained, "Rather than going into speculation, I have to point out that this team works better together than ever before. To discuss other issues and other options that probably are in the background and that are internally discussed is just not the right thing to do.
"The only decision that is taken is that we are firm, here, partners and are connected for a long period of time."