Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler AG has announced that, together with Aabar Investment PJS, it has acquired the remaining 24.9 per cent stake in the Three-Pointed Star's 'works' F1 team from the Ross Brawn-led management group.
Having taken an initial 75 per cent stake in the former Brawn team ahead of last year's 'debut', Daimler and Aabar now own 100 per cent of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix, with Daimler increasing its stake from 45.1 per cent to 60 per cent and Aabar taking an additional ten per cent to own the remaining 40 per cent. The Abu Dhabi-based investment company is already the biggest single shareholder in Daimler AG, with nine per cent.
Although the acquisition is conditional on clearance from the German Bundeskartellamt, it is seen as a clear signal concerning the long-term ambitions being held for the company's premium brand in F1. After Brawn GP's double championship in 2009, last season was seen as something of an anti-climax for Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher combining for just three podium finishes and fourth in the constructors' championship, but the team is already talking of better things with its second car, having had longer to work on the design and development programme.
"This majority stakeholding demonstrates our determination to build a long-term F1 involvement on an even more successful platform," Daimler CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche confirmed, "Our company's founders invented the automobile 125 years ago and the very first Mercedes was a racing car. These are the reasons why we see our F1 programme as an important element of our brand history. The acquisition of a majority stake holding in our Silver Arrows team sends a clear signal that we intend to achieve technical and sporting success on world motorsport's biggest and most important stage - and to do so in cost-effective conditions."
Management board member Dr Thomas Weber added that freeing Brawn from the responsibilities of ownership would also be beneficial for the team.
"This step will bring the colleagues from our F1 chassis and engine groups even closer together, and thereby help to develop our team step-by-step into a winning F1 outfit, while also fulfilling Ross' wish of being in a position to focus wholly on the complex technical challenges of F1 and on his role as our team principal," he commented.
Brawn, meanwhile, also backed the move, believing that it could only make Mercedes a bigger force in F1, whilst playing down suggestions that it may be a precursor to another marathon personal fishing trip.
"Daimler and Aabar's acquisition of the remaining 24.9 per cent stake in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix will be a further step in the consolidation and strengthening of our team for the future," he noted, "Motor racing, particularly F1, is a very specialised industry, and we are privileged to have such strong and understanding partners as Daimler and Aabar to support our joint ambitions.
"I remain fully committed to our team for the long-term, along with the management team and all of our employees. We all look forward to the challenge of making our team successful, and proudly representing Mercedes-Benz and the racing tradition of the Silver Arrows."