Mercedes has urged Formula 1's owners CVC to accelerate efforts to conclude a Concorde Agreement deal with the team if it wants to maximize the benefit of a stock market flotation.
The works team is the only front-running squad not to have yet agreed a deal with Formula 1's bosses to commit it to the sport beyond this year. Should the situation not get resolved soon, sources have revealed that Mercedes may be ready to challenge the terms on offer to it under EU anti-competition law – and there has even been speculation that the German manufacturer could walk away from F1 completely. Either of those options would cast doubts on a successful flotation of F1 that is currently being planned for the Singapore stock exchange later this year.
Mercedes CEO Nick Fry (ABOVE) made it clear in Spain on Thursday, however, that there was no desire from his team to walk away from F1, but he reckons that it would be in CVC's interests for the matter to get resolved sooner rather than later if it was not going to hurt the stock market plans.
"If CVC wish to float F1, I think they need this resolved fairly quickly – possibly more than we need it resolved," Fry said. "Discussions continue, but progress is not as strong as I would like."
Mercedes' F1 team demonstrated this week that it is currently totally focused on its long-term future after concluding deals that run into 2013 with Starwood Hotels and watchmaker IWC. Fry said that he had no doubts that Mercedes was wholly committed to F1, and that he felt grand prix racing actually needed the German car manufacturer to remain a part of it.
"The mindset is absolutely in capital letters: Mercedes-Benz wishes to be in F1," said Fry. "I would also say that F1 also needs Mercedes-Benz. It is one of the top 20 brands globally and is one of the few car manufacturers in F1; it is an engine supplier to three teams. It can attract brands like Starwood Hotels, a huge American company that takes these decisions very seriously, and I think Mercedes wants to be in F1.
"F1 definitely would be much the poorer if Mercedes was not a participant, and I am completely convinced in my mind that if CVC wish to sell some or all of F1, the value they can derive from that would be severely diminished if Mercedes was not a participant."
Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug reiterated recent comments that the German car maker was not pondering a withdrawal.
"I do not want to make a big story out of it – it is not the right approach if somebody rolls a ball and you say, 'No, no, no,'" he said at the Circuit de Catalunya. "You know that there are some negotiations in place that I will not comment on, but this is where the rumors are coming from and you have to accept it. But our basic plan is not to have a works team in 2010 and then not have one in 2013. It [Mercedes pulling out] is just pure speculation and we should not make a big fuss out of it."