Executive Director of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Toto Wolff has said that the German marque may consider following Scuderia Ferrari’s lead by creating its own ‘B-team’.
Ferrari have used the Alfa Romeo name to partner up with the Sauber F1 Team from 2018 onwards, supplying current-spec power units to the Swiss team and placing FIA Formula 2 champion and Ferrari Academy star Charles Leclerc in a race seat. Furthermore, Ferrari will lend technical support to Sauber.
Ferrari also have a firm attachment to the Haas F1 Team, who made their debut in 2016, running several Ferrari produced parts on their car.
Wolff believes that the move is very clever on Ferrari’s part, boosting their influence not only in Alfa Romeo’s road car division, but in the sport itself. The move comes amidst claims made by President Sergio Marchionne that the Scuderia may leave the sport unless a compromise with Liberty Media can be reached.
“I think what Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio [Arrivabene] are doing is very clever,” the Austrian said, speaking to ESPN.
“They’ve had a good relationship with Haas. That has helped Haas and helped Ferrari and what they are doing now with Sauber is very visionary. It can be an alliance that can be dangerous for us.”
Whilst Wolff admitted an interest in doing something similar, the 45-year-old did cede that the venture could prove to be detrimental to the Mercedes works team, given that the four-times World Champions are leaving the DTM series in favour of a move into the exponentially growing FIA Formula E Championship for 2019/20 – something that Ferrari have not yet committed themselves to yet.
“It’s something that we are considering. It’s not easy because you don’t want to distract your own organisation with a collaboration with another team on the other side.”
“We are not the only ones who are having intelligent ideas – we are having discussions but nothing is done yet.”
The introduction of a ‘junior team’ would please Pascal Wehrlein, who is currently without a drive having been ousted from Sauber despite an impressive second year in the sport. The Mercedes junior’s 2018 is currently unknown, but a return to the DTM looks increasingly likely.