Now that it is all set and done for the return of McLaren-Mercedes, multiple scenarios pop up for the scene in 2021 on the constructors’ side. Following the rumours concerning a premature exit from Renault, it is also being questioned whether Mercedes is bound to stay in F1 after 2020.
The return of the iconic McLaren-Mercedes partnership tipped the F1 scale towards the exit of at least one manufacturer. Renault lost its only customer, which could potentially mean curling up their full resources in a ball without sharing with anyone the product of their long-term investment put in place since 2016. However, a mixture of poor results and an unstable management currently directed by Clotilde Delbois is now putting Renault’s presence in F1 under review.
Moreover, the chances of an early exit have increased in the last few weeks, opening up the scenario of Dmitry Mazepin buying out the team with the blessing of Liberty Media. As an aside, the Russian millionaire has already attempted to get into F1 to provide his son, F2 racer Nikita, with a seat.
And what is next for Mercedes? Now that the German constructor has dominated the V6 turbo era since the very beginning, it may well retire at the end of 2020 and only remain as a vestige of prestige by powering McLaren as in the good old days.
In an exclusive interview to motorsport.com, Toto Wolff suggested that Mercedes intends to stay in F1 after 2020 but it is ‘not a given’. The German manufacturer is therefore pondering the decision of settling in Formula 1 long term, depening on the direction towards which the automotive market and motorsport is heading.
"We are in the middle of discussing the new Concorde Agreement. In connection with this - and independently of it - we are discussing the development of the automobile and its effects on sport."
"There is the Ferrari model that says: 'We will do it forever. We build racing cars and we build road cars'. The other model is to say: 'We had a very successful run. There's nothing more to prove. We're doing something else now'. Both are absolutely plausible strategies."
Mercedes currently holds three deals in place for 2021 (McLaren, Racing Point and Williams), which makes it and Renault polar opposites, possibly leading to the same destiny. It is clear that Mercedes has the will and the interest to be involved in F1 before acquiring more experience in Formula E as a constructor. It might be a good strategy to look on silently and evaluating more and more options without exposing itself until the very last minute.
"We have four teams that we supply, including ourselves. You can be only pregnant or not pregnant, not half pregnant. So either we participate in the platform or we do not."
"I don't think anyone would decide that [to leave F1]. But if that were to happen, it [stopping customer supplies] would be a consequence."