Mercedes-Benz has no plans to end its relationship with the McLaren Formula 1 team because of its planned buy-out of Brawn GP, but the German car manufacturer has said that its partnership with the Woking-based outfit will change.
The Stuttgart-based car maker has agreed a three-year plan to buy into the Brawn GP team, although a final contract has not yet been signed. The deal has cast doubts about the future of the McLaren and Mercedes relationship, but Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche said that his company was not planning to walk away from the team once their exclusive partnership deal ends after 2011.
"Ending the relationship is not an option but we may have a different relationship," he told Autocar at the Frankfurt motor show.
Zetsche also admitted that the future of their relationship would depend on where F1's costs headed over the next few years.
"We [Mercedes] want to see significantly lower budgets in F1 and the changing of regulations," said Zetsche.
The move appears to leave McLaren choosing whether it wants to become just a Mercedes-Benz customer team from 2012, or go and seek a partnership with another manufacturer.
Zetsche revealed that part of the motivation for the future tie-up with Brawn was fueled by a dispute with McLaren about developing its own supercar.
"For a long period, we had a lack of alignment on road cars, but we have now found a clear solution and we won't participate," he said on the same day that Mercedes-Benz unveiled its own SLS supercar.