Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admits that it is “not a given” that they will remain as a works team within Formula 1 beyond the 2021 campaign.
The Silver Arrows are still negotiating a new commercial rights deal with Liberty Media, and with this in mind, Wolff has not provided any guarantees they will stay, even if the most likely scenario will be their continued involvement.
“Everything indicates that we will stay. But it’s not a given,” the Austrian told Motorsport.com.
“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.”
When asked what specific factors could influence the decision, he said:
“In which direction is the automotive world developing? In what form is Formula 1 relevant as an entertainment and technology platform? As a brand whose first car was a racing car, do we want to stay on this platform in the long term?
“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.”
Within the V6 hybrid engine era, Mercedes have dominated F1, winning the past six constructors’ championship including this year’s 2019 edition.
Wolff says this is a factor which could see them remain, as he reckons true success can be established with longevity as well as short-term achievements.
“If you do a survey today to see which Formula 1 teams are the most successful, most people will say Ferrari,” he suggested.
“That’s simply because Ferrari has been at the forefront and competitive for 50 years.
“I think at a time when everything is so short-term, it’s the sustainability of success that makes the strategy much more credible than fast in and out. Success can also fluctuate at times – it can also happen that you come third.
“Of course, as a brand used to success, you have to endure keeping your own expectations realistic and calibrating that you can’t win every year. That’s not easy. I have to start with myself: How can I endure that?”