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Mercedes accelerates F1 investment in bid for victory

NEWS STORY
09/10/2013

Over the past few days the world of Formula One has been abuzz with talk about Ross Brawn stepping down as Mercedes team principal. Speculation about where he might move has been rampant and it was met with swift denial from Niki Lauda who is non-executive chairman of Mercedes’ F1 team.

There is good reason why Brawn may want to stick around as an article by Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt in the City A.M. newspaper reveals that Mercedes has given a sharp boost to its investment in a bid to win in 2014.

Next year F1 shakes up its regulations with a switch from the current V8 engines to more environmentally friendly turbocharged V6s. Mercedes' investment in its 2014 race programme was well underway last year and its accounts to 31 December 2012 show that operating costs increased 20% to 151m compared to a mere 0.2% decrease the previous year.

Staff numbers increased by 86 and a spokesperson for the team says that "76 were technical roles, reflecting the programme of expansion and strengthening.” The accounts make it clear that "the company's principal objective is to win the FIA Formula One World Championship."

Revenue at the team was a stable 115m leaving it with a loss after tax of 31.5m. However, the spokesperson says that this was funded from cash that has been in the team's bank account since Mercedes' parent Daimler bought it in 2009 from management including Brawn.

The team has received further investment since then and in January it poached experienced motorsport manager Toto Wolff from Williams. He is believed to have taken a 30% stake in the team which reduces Mercedes' risk. It owns 60% with the remaining 10% in Lauda's hands.

Total costs of the team and engine division came to 277m last year but the spokesperson adds that this is not a net cost to Mercedes thanks to third party income via rights monies, sponsorship and revenues from leasing its engines to McLaren and Force India. It remains to be seen whether the manufacturer's show of support is enough to keep Brawn onboard.

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