Mercedes was keen to sell their customer power units to McLaren, but the negotiations went on for too long and thus didn’t materialise, team boss Toto Wolff revealed.
After watching the first few races of 2017 fail, McLaren started to explore other options to replace Honda as their engine supplier.
Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche was approached by McLaren shareholder Mansour Ojjeh to seek a potential deal. In the past, the two companies had a successful relationship for 25 years when Mercedes was the British team’s engine supplier. But when the negotiations for 2018 started, the deal fell through.
Although Mercedes was interested in bringing in McLaren as a customer, they did not have enough time to set up the infrastructure to handle the fourth customer in a short time, Wolff clarified.
“We wanted to give McLaren an engine; the problem is that it dragged on for a long time and we just didn’t have the structure in place and the capacity to supply them an engine for 2018,” Wolff told ESPN. “It was simply too late.”
McLaren finally agreed to a four-way deal, where they swapped Honda for Renault engines while Toro Rosso tied up with the Japanese manufacturer.
Is there any chance McLaren may return to the German team as a customer, Wolff said: “You must never rule out supplying anybody in the future, and this is why McLaren or anyone else in the future could be a partner.”
Red Bull’s Christian Horner has always pointed out their French engines’ lack of power compared to the Mercedes units since the rules brought in V6 turbo hybrid in 2014. The attitude of pointing fingers is the reason Mercedes did not want to supply engines to the Austrian team, Wolff added.
“It is exactly because they are saying it like this and undermining their current partner that they are not having one!” he added. “In Formula One, like everywhere else in life — be it your private life or business life — it’s about compromise and acknowledging your partner’s strengths and weaknesses and helping each other out.
“That is very much the culture we have at Mercedes and that has made us successful in the last few years. Respect is a super important part of our values and this is why we have chosen the partners we have.”