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MARCH 10, 2004

Rumours about McLaren

In Australia a number of Formula 1 teams reported quietly that they have become aware of a head-hunting agency in Britain which, in recent weeks, has been approaching experienced F1 engineers and offering them well-paid jobs for an new project being planned in Britain. Applicants for the jobs have apparently been told that there is to be a Mercedes-Benz operation based in Britain. Not surprisingly, this has led to suggestions that Mercedes-Benz might be considering doing its own thing in Grand Prix racing.

"McLaren is aware that there is a programme requiring composite engineers," says McLaren boss Ron Dennis. "But it is not for Formula 1."

Dennis is not willing to say what Mercedes-Benz is up to but says that the McLaren-Mercedes relationship is as strong as ever and will run for many years to come.

Rumours doing the rounds in Melbourne included suggestions that Mercedes-Benz is in the process of negotiating to buy the outstanding 60% of share in McLaren which are owned by Dennis and by Mansour Ojjeh, which would seem to be contradictory to any plan for a Mercedes F1 team. There have been a variety of other stories published around the world suggesting other changes that may happen in the wake of the change of management at Mercedes-Benz which will see Jurgen Hubbert is standing down as chief executive and handing over his role to Wolfgang Bernhard.

Most of these seem to be pure speculation and Dennis says that the important thing at the moment is to make sure that the MP4-19 improves rapidly. He says that the cars will be "significantly better" in Malaysia.

Good news for David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen.