Back in the day, when Sir Frank Williams wanted to enter Formula 1, he bought a chassis and an engine and went racing. Since then, and even today under his daughter’s direction, the team have remained adamant that F1 teams should be constructors and they’ve been against customer cars and teams for years now.
That wasn’t a fine line position but Gene Haas has challenged that notion with his “listed parts” F1 team in which they have purchased nearly every part the FIA regulations would allow from Ferrari and this has meant the team hit the ground running scoring points and avoiding the very costly learning curve and development cycle that it would normally take to even achieve a level of performance to score a single point, let alone multiple points.
That kind of relationship between Ferrari and Haas F1 is something Mercedes say they’d be keen to engage in with either of their customers—Force India or Williams. While Claire Williams says her team isn’t interested and wishes to remain as an independent constructor, Force India could be an interesting option as a cash-starved operation with an owner on the run from tax penalty allegations. Merc boss Toto Wolff said:
“We have seen that the system between Ferrari and Haas has worked, it has worked for both,” said Wolff.
“It’s an interesting revenue filler for Ferrari, and in terms of synergies, there is a lot you can work on, and it has functioned for Haas.
“They are a very competitive team without having built on a legacy, or without having built on knowhow that would have taken years and years to collect.
“So far the system is very successful, and of course our thinking goes in that direction – whether it is Williams or Force India to collaborate.
“But we are in the middle of a tough fight for this 2018 championship, so we need to prioritise.”
Williams is also working on a much lower budget than the top teams but they’ve prided themselves in being a tidy business that balances the books, employs hundreds and remains a sustainable ecosystem for racing. Force India is another matter completely and while they may be operating on similar budgets as Williams, they also may be looking for future opportunities if they make sense.
For me, Force India needs to consider its long-term options and with an owner fighting legal issues and the team still managing to perform well and find sponsors, they are a perfect candidate for serious investment and strategic partnerships with Mercedes. What Force India achieves with their smaller budget is to be admired and I think the talent on hand is something Mercedes would look favorably upon. It could be a good relationship in the long run.
Hat Tip: Autosport