INEOS becomes equal Mercedes owner, Wolff signs new deal - The Race
Formula 1

INEOS becomes equal Mercedes owner, Wolff signs new deal

Dec 18 2020
By Scott Mitchell

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has signed a deal to remain as team principal, while INEOS has acquired a significant stake in the team and Daimler’s has been reduced.

Speculation about Mercedes’ future has been sustained all year despite repeated attempts from team chiefs to dismiss it, and various developments seemingly showing its commitment.

The same has been true for Wolff, who has overseen all seven of Mercedes’ title doubles since 2014 but has been linked with a move into a new role or an exit from the team entirely.

Meanwhile INEOS, Jim Ratcliffe’s company which joined Mercedes as principal partner in 2020, was incorrectly tipped to buy the team outright.

Various pieces have fallen into place over Mercedes’ future as the year has developed.

Wolff said he and Daimler had no desire to sell their stakes in the team, and Mercedes Grand Prix signed up to a new five-year Concorde Agreement with F1 in the summer.

Toto Wolff

Daimler boss Ola Kallenius insisted F1 would play a long-term role in Mercedes’ future and pledged that an intensification for the AMG brand would be a key part of that.

Wolff then dismissed rumours that Ratcliffe was in negotiations to take over his or Mercedes’ shares in the team and rebrand it in the INEOS name.

He also insisted he would sign a new deal to remain in charge in 2021, after hinting he could take on a new overarching role with a replacement team principal identified.

On Friday, Mercedes announced INEOS will become a one third shareholder in the team, holding an equal stake to Wolff and Daimler: with Mercedes’ parent company significantly reducing its 60% shareholding and Wolff increasing his from 30%.

Mercedes said the team will remain the “works team of Mercedes-Benz and will continue to race Mercedes chassis and power units in the coming years”.

As part of the deal Wolff will remain team principal and CEO for three more years.

“He will have the subsequent opportunity to transition to a new executive function within the organisation when he decides it is the right time to do so,” said a Mercedes statement.

“We remain firmly committed to Formula 1, and the forthcoming cost cap along with the new shareholding structure put us in an even stronger position for continued success,” said Kallenius.

“With an even closer alignment to our Mercedes-AMG performance division beginning in 2021, and Toto’s continued leadership in the coming years, the future is bright for Mercedes-Benz in Formula 1.”

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Wolff said he was “pleased to begin this new chapter” and described Mercedes as “like a family for me”.

“We have been through so many highs and lows together that I cannot imagine working with a better group of people in this sport – and I am very happy to continue together into this new era.

“This new investment from INEOS confirms that the business case for Formula 1 teams is robust and sends an important signal of confidence in the sport after a challenging year.”

INEOS taking on an equal partnership with the team rather than acting as a sponsor will likely fuel speculation INEOS will seek a greater buy-in in the future, if not take over the team outright.

As well as the financial support of the principal partnership there is a well-established practical and technological link between Mercedes and INEOS through Mercedes’ applied science division, which was created last year and works with INEOS’s cycling and America’s Cup sailing programmes.

Ratcliffe has previously played down seeking a stake in the F1 team. In addition to his INEOS sporting entities he owns two football teams: Swiss club FC Lausanne-Sport and French side Nice.

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