Sir Jim Ratcliffe has played down concerns about the length of INEOS’ partnership deal with Mercedes despite the Formula 1 team’s future being uncertain. 

Earlier this week, a five-year partnership between Mercedes and INEOS was confirmed in a deal reported to be worth £20million per year. 

Mercedes is yet to commit to F1 beyond the end of the current season, though the German manufacturer gave its clearest indication yet that it is set to stay heading into the championship’s new era post-2020. 

Team boss Toto Wolff insisted his side is here for the “long term” and rubbished “nonsense” stories suggesting Mercedes was preparing to quit. 

But Ratcliffe, whose INEOS firm has links to football, cycling, athletics and sailing via Ben Ainslie’s bid to win the America’s Cup next year, is not concerned. 

Asked if he had any concerns over the length of the deal given uncertainty over Mercedes’ future involvement in F1, Ratcliffe replied: “All sport is a risk”. 

“It’s a bit like if you look at our America’s Cup challenge, we are trying very, very hard to get to the start line with a boat that’s competitive, and it’s quite expensive to get there. 

“But even if we get to the start line with a competitive boat with Toto’s help, it’s still a sport. Is Ben going to win or isn’t he going to win if he’s in a boat that’s as quick as the Kiwis. 

“You can’t take risk out of an acquisition. You have to apply some rigour and at the end of the day some common sense.”

Wolff and Mercedes’ star driver Lewis Hamilton are also out of contract at the end of 2020, though both are expected to stay. Ratcliffe said he would be surprised if Hamilton left the team that has guided him to five of his sixth world championship crowns. 

“I’ve only ever met Lewis and his dog for five minutes so I don’t know him but I am a great admirer,” Ratcliffe explained. 

“I think he is one of the greatest drivers to ever stride on the earth. He is an extremely talented man but in terms of the future that decision is down to Toto and not me.

“If I were Lewis, where would I be? I’d probably want to equal [Michael] Schumacher’s record this year and where do you think the best place is to do that? 

“Because that is a pretty phenomenal thing to achieve and Toto has this wonderful team of people that are like his family, it has transformed Mercedes’ image and its common sense.” 

 

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