Ferrari’s “visionary” plan to have a junior team has impressed Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who said they are also considering implementing something similar.
Ferrari signed a long-term agreement with Sauber which includes several benefits apart from the supply of the latest engines. Sauber is getting title sponsorship from Alfa Romeo from 2018 and is also getting Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc for the race seat and Antonio Giovinazzi as their reserve driver.
Apart from Sauber, the Italian outfit also has close collaboration with the American team Haas which has consistently come 8th in its first two years. Wolff knows of how these deals strengthen Ferrari’s power on the grid.
“I think what [Ferrari president] Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio [Arrivabene] are doing is very clever,” Wolff told ESPN. “They’ve had a good relationship with Haas. That has helped Haas and helped Ferrari and what they are doing now with Sauber is very visionary. With Fred [Vassuer] he has a team principal on the other side who knows the business inside out and it can be an alliance that can be dangerous for us.”
Wolff is keen to replicate a similar idea at Mercedes. Creating a B team that will make it easy for the squad to groom their younger drivers and also helps them balance the influence on the grid.
“It’s something that we are considering. It’s not easy because you don’t want to distract your own organisation with a collaboration with another team on the other side. We are not the only ones who are having intelligent ideas — we are having discussions but nothing is done yet.”
At the moment, Mercedes is supplying engines to Force India and Williams F1 team. Force India has turned out to be a consistent number four at the driver’s standing despite having one of the smallest F1 budgets. Williams is undertaking a complete rebuild of their car for 2018 and is yet to choose their second driver for the next season.
It will be interesting to see if Mercedes goes with either of the teams or if it will create a new outfit to be their junior squad.