Ineos, the British firm behind the forthcoming Grenadier off-roader, has taken a one-third stake in the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team in a deal that also includes team boss Toto Wolff committing to the outfit for a further three years.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s firm, one of the largest chemical companies in the world, is already a major sponsor of the pace-setting Brackley-based F1 squad, which has won the last seven drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
Under the new deal, Ineos, Mercedes-Benz parent firm Daimler and Wolff will each own one-third of the outfit. Daimler currently owns 60% and Wolff 30%. The new arrangement with Ineos is believed to be related to the firm’s recent purchase of Mercedes-Benz’s Smart factory in Hambach, France. Ineos Automotive will produce the Grenadier off-roader there and will also continue to manufacture the Smart on a contract basis.
Wolff has led Mercedes-AMG throughout its recent dominant stretch, but had yet to agree a new contract with the firm and there had been rumours linking him to a move elsewhere. Under the new deal, he will slightly increase his shareholding in the team and has also agreed to serve as team principal and CEO for a further three years. After that, he will have the “opportunity to transition to a new executive function within the organisation when he decides it is the right time to do so.”
In a release confirming the deal, Mercedes-AMG F1 confirmed that it would remain Mercedes-Benz’s official works team and continue to use the firm’s chassis and power units. It also said that it would be closer aligned to the Mercedes-AMG performance division and would continue to diversify through an applied science business that seeks to use F1 tech outside of motorsport.
Ineos chairman Ratcliffe said: “When we entered F1 earlier this year, we chose to do so with a Mercedes team that had set new benchmarks, and since then, we have been in discussions about how we could increase our involvement. This is a unique opportunity to make a financial investment in a team at the very top of its game, but which still has rich potential to grow in the future.”
Mercedes chairman Ola Källenius said the deal was “a sign of the strength of the organisation in Brackley that we have been able to attract prestigious investors in Ineos, who see real potential for the future growth and development of the team.”
He added: “We remain firmly committed to F1, and the forthcoming cost cap along with the new shareholding structure put us in an even stronger position for continued success. 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 F1.”
Wolff said: “This team is 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.”
Wolff’s new deal removes one of two major question marks for Mercedes-AMG heading into 2021, and the team can now shift its focus to agreeing a new deal with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. The British racer is expected to stay at the squad, but had previously hinted he wanted a commitment from Wolff before doing so.