For months, the world’s motor racing media has speculated about Mercedes-Benz’s desire to return to Grand Prix racing for the first time since 1955. The arrival in F1 of Merc’s protégés Michael Schumacher and Karl Wendlinger was further evidence of Stuttgart’s intentions.
On November 26, Mercedes finally revealed its plans – a spot of support for privateer touring car teams and, er, that’s it. Its sports car racing programme had been axed, and after due consideration the decision not to bother with F1 had been taken (we wonder what Harvey Postlethwaite has been up to since quitting Tyrrell to join Mercedes-Benz last summer?).
Whilst Mercedes-Benz was under no obligation to invest massively in an F1 programme, it seems a pity that it has changed its mind. It has cited a desire to spend its time developing environmentally friendly solutions for the everyday motorist (such as the 6.0-litre V12, capable of a composite 17.9 mpg, that powers the top-of-the-range S-class?). All the same, in an age when F1 chassis have ever sillier names (what sort of heritage is there in a Leyton House or a Footwork?), it would have been nice to herald the return of a world-famous volume car manufacturer. SA