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Haug hints there might be 'some surprises' in Mercedes GP line-up

Norbert Haug has suggested that it would be wise not to try second-guessing the driver line-up at Mercedes Grand Prix in F1 2010 - with Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and even Michael Schumacher all having been linked to the team...
Norbert Haug has dropped hints that there could be 'some surprises' when the driver line-up is revealed for the Mercedes Grand Prix effort in F1 2010 – as he re-affirmed that the Stuttgart manufacturer is very much involved in the sport for the long-term.

It was announced yesterday that Mercedes-Benz has relinquished its 40 per cent share of long-time partner McLaren and purchased a majority 75 per cent stake in F1 2009 World Champions Brawn GP [see separate story – click here], meaning that from next season onwards, the Brackley-based outfit will officially become known as Mercedes Grand Prix.

That has led to some speculation that there is a plan being put in-place to create an all-German 'super team', with Jenson Button being linked increasingly to McLaren alongside title-winning predecessor and compatriot Lewis Hamilton, to make way, some contend, for highly-rated ex-Williams F1 ace Nico Rosberg and experienced BMW-Sauber refugee Nick Heidfeld.

However, out-of-work 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen is similarly in the frame after being let go by Ferrari in favour of Fernando Alonso, whilst somewhat wilder speculation has linked record-breaking legend Michael Schumacher to a return to the cockpit for one last hurrah behind the wheel of a Silver Arrow [see separate story – click here]. As he set out Mercedes' vision for the future, the three-pointed star's motorsport vice-president Haug suggested that it would be wise not to make any rash presumptions driver-wise.

“I think we have to be very pleased and satisfied to have announced our new Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team,” underlined the German, “and the next steps will follow. I have every understanding that all the people in Formula 1 worldwide want to know who the drivers will be now. It's not finally decided, but I think and hope we can announce something in the course of the next couple of weeks. We will do a very good job in that respect as well I can promise you – and maybe we can create some surprises...

“To start a new season with Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix – our own Formula 1 team – is something really special for us. We have much, much better circumstances these days in Formula 1 – teams get more money from the commercial rights-holder and there is a new commercial agreement in-place which limits the spending of the teams, so we will spend much less money than we used to do in the past.

“We always from a Mercedes-Benz side have been very, very efficient in that respect, and we will be even more efficient and bring the costs considerably down. That is the reason for us; I cannot judge what the other manufacturers are doing, but one thing is for sure – Formula 1 is a very, very important platform for us, we are celebrating 75 years of the Silver Arrows this year, we have a great heritage and we want to continue in that direction.”

The 56-year-old went on to discuss the end of the relationship with McLaren – a scenario that had been anticipated for some time following the string of high-profile scandals that have plagued the Woking-based concern of late, from the 2007 'Spygate' saga to Hamilton's Melbourne lies controversy earlier this year. Mercedes will continue as an engine-supplier until at least 2015, and Haug added that he is eagerly awaiting a new on-track rivalry rather than partnership.

“It was quite amicable,” he assured. “The McLaren Group set itself some new targets, especially on the automotive side; we respect that, and we will co-operate in the future. We have had a very, very fruitful co-operation in the past; we have won three drivers' world championships – two times with Mika Hakkinen, one time in 2008 with Lewis Hamilton obviously – we were once constructors' world champions and we were ten times the 'silver medal' winner, being runner-up in both categories.

“This was certainly very successful, and in the last twelve years since our first victory in '97 we have won 60 races, which is quite a good achievement, I would say. We will co-operate in the future as well, but certainly with a different outlook from the beginning of next year. There will definitely be co-operation and friendship away from the racetrack, and we will be rivals on the track – but we will do that in a very sporting manner and respect each other.”

To watch the interview in full, click here



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dooze - Unregistered

November 17, 2009 4:14 PM

Though they dislike each other, a dream team would be Michael Schumacher - Kimi Raikkonen line up. Schumacher would probably be professional enough to not mind having Kimi as a teammate. And Kimi is Kimi. Nuff said. Bring on Ferrari, McLaren and the rest of the pretenders on.



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