Mercedes-Benz is changing the ownership structure of its Formula One team, the automaker said late last week.
Mercedes currently owns 60% of the team while Toto Wolff, the team’s CEO and team principal, owns 30%, with other investors owning the remaining 10% stake.
But under a new structure, the team will be equally split between Mercedes, Wolff, and British chemical giant Ineos, while remaining Mercedes’ factory team. Wolff will also commit to running the team for the next three years, quashing rumors he might jump to the Aston Martin F1 team (Wolff also owns a small percentage of Aston Martin).
The new deal also puts to rest rumors from early this year that Mercedes could exit F1 as a constructor to cut costs while beefing up spending in new fields such as electrification and self-driving technology.
Ineos is the company developing the Grenadier SUV, and is already a sponsor of the Mercedes F1 team. Ineos also agreed this month to purchase the Smart plant in Hambach, France, from Mercedes, to use for production of the Grenadier.
“This is a unique opportunity to make a financial investment in a team at the very top of its game, but which still has rich potential to grow in the future,” Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of Ineos, said in a statement.
According to Mercedes, new budget caps being introduced in F1 from 2021 will mean some teams will be able to become financially sustainable on their own, i.e. without a major backer like an automaker funneling cash to keep them going. Mercedes’ team has also started to diversify beyond F1 through its Applied Science division, a consulting division which applies F1 know-how in other fields.
The news of the new ownership structure at Mercedes F1 comes just a week after McLaren Group announced it was selling a third of its F1 team to MSP Sports Capital. And in August, the Williams F1 team was sold to Dorilton Capital.