Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche has admitted that the German giant would pull out of F1 before entering an arrangement to produce engines with a rival.
The comment was made during an end-of-year interview with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport
, when Zetsche was asked whether Mercedes' technical partnership with Renault could see the two parties working together in F1, particularly with the introduction of the all-new turbocharged V6 'power units' in 2014 set to push costs higher and higher.
Despite the alliance between the Three Pointed Star and the Renault-Nissan group set to expand on the roadcar side in the next year, however, Zetsche was adamant that there could be no collaboration on the track, as F1 – and motorsport in general – was a key component in Mercedes' marketing strategy as it attempts to set itself apart from its rivals.
"While we do cooperate…. part of our marketing is motor sport and the engine is a core competency - we want to show that we can build the best engine,” he claimed, “A common engine has sometimes been discussed in F1 but, if it came to that, it would time for us to leave.”
2013 proved to be Mercedes' most successful season to date since returning to F1 as a constructor, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton claiming three races win between them, and sharing the qualifying battle with eventual champions Red Bull, ironically powered by Infiniti-badged Renault engines. After the disappointment of 2012, when it followed back-to-back fourth places in the constructors' championship with a drop to fifth, Zetsche acknowledges the improvement.
“We made a new start in F1 four years ago and battled for a top three place in the constructors' championship right away,” he reflected, “Unfortunately, 2012 was catastrophic from our point of view with only fifth place, so we made a few basic changes. Of course, our aim is to win
the drivers' and teams' world championships but you can neither buy nor guarantee that in this sport. Therefore, 2013 was a positive season, and second place, from my point of view, is a base from which to improve further.”
Mercerdes continues with an unchanged driver line-up in 2014, but will operate under the combined guidance of Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolff following Ross Brawn's decision to leave the team and take a sabbatical from F1.