McLaren Group boss Ron Dennis believes that his company's Formula 1 team will come out of its revised partnership with Mercedes-Benz a stronger force thanks to its increased independence.
Mercedes-Benz announced on Monday that it was to focus its efforts on Brawn GP, and bring an end to what had been an exclusive tie-up with McLaren. Although those plans mean McLaren will not enjoy the financial support from Mercedes-Benz it has had in the past, Dennis believes that the benefits of being free to run its own car company, McLaren Automotive, will actually be a help to its F1 efforts.
His stance comes after a deal was struck with Mercedes-Benz to confirm the German car maker will supply engines until the end of 2015 at the earliest – with options available to keep the partnership going beyond then. McLaren will also continue to run in the silver and red colors that have been a hallmark of its tie-up with both Mercedes-Benz and title sponsor Vodafone.
"This is a win-win situation, for both McLaren and Daimler," said Dennis, who is chairman of McLaren Automotive and a founding shareholder in the McLaren Group. "I've often stated that it's my belief that, in order to survive and thrive in 21st century Formula 1, a team must become much more than merely a team. That being the case, in order to develop and sustain the revenue streams required to compete and win grands prix and World Championships, companies that run Formula 1 teams must broaden the scope of their commercial activities.
"Nonetheless, all of our partners will, of course, continue to play a crucial role in our Formula 1 program. For that reason, and because the engines they produce are very competitive, we're delighted that Mercedes-Benz has committed to continue not only as an engine supplier but also as a partner of ours until 2015 – and perhaps thereafter."
McLaren plans to buy back the 40-percent stake in the company that Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler has had in the team, which will further strengthen McLaren's independence.
Dennis added: "The next few years will be a very exciting time for McLaren, during which period we intend to become an ever-stronger technological and economic force. Formula 1 will always be a core activity, for sound business reasons as well as for historical sporting reasons: To be clear, our Formula 1 business has traditionally enjoyed great financial security, largely as a consequence of the longevity of our contracts with our partners, many of which have exceeded 15 years of continuous involvement with McLaren. Indeed, two of our partners have been with us for more than 25 years.
"We're risk-averse by design. Over the past two years we've analyzed in great detail the challenge of entering the high-performance production sports car market. In the MP4-12C, which will be introduced to the market in 2011, we have a car that has inherited the genes of the iconic McLaren F1 of 1994 and has already been the subject of much global media acclaim. It is proposed that it will be produced in a new state-of-the-art production facility adjacent to the existing award-winning McLaren Technology Centre at Woking."
McLaren has 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton under contract for 2010, but the team has yet to settle on a second driver. Ex-Ferrari man Kimi Raikkonen had been previously thought to be a firm favorite for the seat, but in recent days World Champion Jenson Button has been tipped to switch to McLaren from Brawn.