Mercedes AMG Petronas boss Nick Fry has issued his position on the many rumors of Mercedes and the CVC Capital flotation of Formula One. The original accusation that Mercedes was possibly leaving Formula 1 was leveraged by The Telegraph and since then many journalists and pundits have weighed in on the matter. Mercedes released a throw-away comment about being involved in negotiations and not being able to discuss it but today Fry offered his most candid thoughts ont eh issue to date telling AUTOSPORT:
“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.”
While he feels CVC Capital may need the flotation more than the teams at this point, he also threw some weight around the argument by eliciting Mercedes AMG Petronas sponsor Starwood Hotels and suggested that if Mercedes were to leave, the value of F1 would diminish:
“The mindset is absolutely in capital letters: Mercedes-Benz wishes to be in F1,” Fry said. “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.”
In the end game, it sounds as if there is consideration of leaving if certain circumstances aren’t met with CVC and Formula One Management (FOM). Like all threats, you never use them unless you are willing to fully walk away and any negotiator knows that. How willing Mercedes might be to end their investment in F1 remains to be seen but Fry doesn’t sound like a man happy with CVC’s position so far.
Fry also spoke up about the ‘raw eggs’ analogy offered by his driver Michael Schumacher concerning Pirelli tires. Schumacher told CNN that driving on the current compound of Pirelli tires were like driving on raw eggs and we argued that he actually meant it’s like walking on egg shells such is the delicate nature of the durability of the tires versus their built-in degradation rate. Fry supported Schumacher saying:
“I think the real question is one of philosophy as opposed to whether the tyres are good, bad or indifferent,” Fry said via AUTOSPORT who was covering the Starwood hotels press conference..
“Pirelli are more than capable of making tyres to any specification and they have been guided to make the tyres we have at the moment. I think I have seen some debate in the media about whether that is the right route for F1 and whether the tyres should be durable enough for the drivers to drive flat out for the whole race.
“That is clearly the perspective that Michael has or whether they are a bit more sensitive which obviously our other driver Nico likes.
“From a team point of view we have no issue that one driver has a particular point of view and the other driver has another point of view and I think that is a good healthy debate and I think it is a question for Formula 1 whether we need the tyres we have or whether, as in history, you have tyres that you can drive flat out on all the time.
“I think that is a question for the teams and the organisers to answer and we support Michael on having a strong point of view on this. It may not be a point of view that other driver share but it is a perfectly valid and intelligent point of view.”
There you have it. The most we’ve heard from Nick Fry in months. Perhaps the absence of team boss Ross Brawn in Spain this week has Fry playing a more active role with the media. Ross Brawn’s illness this weekend certainly thickens the plot and intensifies the challenges the team will face on a circuit they know well. Bob Bell will be taking Brawn’s place this weekend.
Brawn is said to be sitting the Spanish Grand Prix out this weekend over an illness. According to reports, Brawn felt unwell last week and after consulting a doctor, he was advised to satay home this weekend. That has me concerned on many levels but Fry told AUTOSPORT that they fully expect him back for Monaco. Either way, it usually takes wild horses to keep Brawn from the action and I offer a heart-felt “get well soon” to Mr. Brawn from all of us at F1B. Let’s hope it’s a simple head cold and not the Spanish Flu