Toto Wolff says Mercedes could look to strengthen its relationship with the Manor Racing team in the coming seasons, but maintains it is not planning to propose a 'buy-out' or to have a direct influence on the way it is operated.
Manor is enjoying its most competitive season since joining the F1 fray back in 2010, a spike in form in part made possible by a landmark engine deal with Mercedes.
Together with Manor overhauling its team management structure, Mercedes has influenced Manor's driver line-up too having placed Pascal Wehrlein in the car at the start of the season before negotiating a deal to give Esteban Ocon a race drive in the second half of the season in place of the cash-strapped Rio Haryanto.
With two Mercedes juniors in the team now, there is speculation that the manufacturer could use it as an opportunity to establish Manor as its 'B' team for up and coming drivers, much like Red Bull does with Toro Rosso.
However, while Wolff suggests there is scope for firming up its working relationship with Manor there are currently no plans to regard it as an official 'junior' team.
“When we started the F1 programme a few years ago, there was no capacity for setting up a junior programme,” he said. “Max Verstappen is a good example, as he slipped through because we did not have a system in place – the only thing we could offer was GP2 and that was clearly not as good as a Toro Rosso seat.
“Today things have changed… obviously we made an agreement with Manor for Pascal, which works well and then the opportunity came up because Haryanto was out and we had a couple of weeks of negotiations and found a reasonable deal. There are areas we support Manor, strategy for example, and it seems that the relationship is different now.
“We are not a shareholder of the team and don't plan to be a shareholder of the team, we do not own the team, we do not subsidise the team. Our main objective is to win championships with Mercedes but there could be a co-operation that goes beyond what we do today with Manor. The plans of having a junior team which we co-own haven't changed.”
A tenth place finish for Wehrlein in this year's Austrian Grand Prix marked only the second top ten finish for Manor in the six years it has competed in F1.
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