Merc slaps BMW, Toyota, Honda on F1 departure

Our friend, Brad Spurgoen, covers Formula One and you may have heard him on our feature podcast that F1B fan Michael Sarah provided from Australia. Brad is a great guy and does terrific work that is covered here in the States by the New York Times. Brad was in Bahrain and then jetted off to Turkey for a conference which he covers here.

The interesting moment was when Anders-Sundt Jensen, vice president brand communications of Mercedes-Benz Cars, shared his thoughts on the reason the German car maker is in Formula One as covered by Brad in his inimitable style:

“Some people said that Honda and BMW and Toyota stepped out because they had a very environmental friendly strategy,” he said, adding an expletive that means this idea is untrue. “They left because they did not have any success” as team owners.

“For us, we are an international brand and there are 20 Formula One events around the world,” he added. “I can only tell you one thing: For car manufacturers, please give me that platform which provides so much attention for so little money, and I am definitely willing to change our activities and shift them towards that platform. So far, I haven’t found it.”

Mercedes is…shall we say…bullish on why they are in Formula 1 and its an interesting bravado considering they were merely an engine supplier for many years. Competition is good and Mercedes is right about the investment and brand awareness that F1 brings to successful (or even mildly successful) teams on the grid.

It is a notion we argued all those months ago when Toyota, BMW and Honda left. One could argue that Honda would have won the world title the year after they left the sport and the sold their infrastructure to Ross Brawn in the closing days of 2008. Sundt Jensen is right, the companies did use the eco-friendly electric car or “green” ideology as their reason for leaving but we all knew it was the collapse of the world economy.

It was sad that BMW left as I felt they were on the cusp of something very good in F1. Equally, Japan has a wonderful history with F1 and their departure was a real shame just when the likes of the dynamic Kamui Kobayashi came along and could have used their support.

Win or lose, I respect Mercedes AMG Petronas for their bullish behavior about winning and being in F1 and the ROI they feel they have with such and investment.  The big question is how long will they stay if they aren’t winning? That, as BMW, Toyota and Honda proved, is the real key to being an also-ran or a legacy in Formula One like McLaren, Williams, Ferrari or…yes, I’ll say it…Sauber.

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