Mercedes wanted more competitive customer teams

Valtteri Bottas in action at the Russian Grand Prix

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the marque’s desire to have more competitive customer teams was an influencing factor in its decision to rekindle its McLaren partnership.

It was announced last Saturday that McLaren will return to using Mercedes power from 2021-24, on a customer basis, seven years after it ended its collaboration the first time around.

McLaren endured a fraught stint with Honda and a switch to Renault power for 2018 alerted the team to inadequacies within its organisation that were previously masked.

McLaren has made gains in 2019 to lead the midfield pack, while elsewhere the power advantage Mercedes previously held in the hybrid era has been eradicated by Ferrari.

“I think that a new era is going to start in 2021 with compressed grids, with more competition,” said Wolff.

“We believe that from a power unit side, there is more learning for us in this exercise with having more competitive customers, adding to the two that we have, and we rate McLaren strongly.

“The steps that Zak [Brown] and Andreas [Seidl] have initiated already look very promising.

“So the advantages outweigh the potential deficits of fighting a hard competitor like McLaren in the future.”

Wolff has stressed that the collaboration is not the start of a return to the previous McLaren-Mercedes structure.

“The relationship is pretty strong because of these [past] days, but for us it was important to make clear that there is a works team today, and this is a customer power unit relationship, and not the start of a works deal and us not being there anymore,” he said.

“As it stands, we are keen in understanding how Formula 1 goes forward, how it develops, and continuing preferably as a works team.”

See also: Analysing what the McLaren-Mercedes deal means