Losing McLaren as customer not ideal for Mercedes

Toto Wolff has admitted Mercedes is disappointed with long time partner McLaren's move to link up with works Honda engines in 2015.

Formerly McLaren's works engine partner, Mercedes set up its own F1 team a few years ago, leaving the great British outfit with the prospect of a customer engine bill.

But that will end after 2014, when Japanese carmaker Honda returns to F1 after a six-year absence, rekindling its famous and highly-successful partnership of the 80s and 90s with McLaren.

Mercedes, albeit focused on its Brackley based works squad but still supplying customers McLaren and Force India, admitted it is disappointed to lose a great partner.

"It is of course not ideal when you lose a customer, especially when it's someone like McLaren, who have been with Mercedes for so long and celebrated great successes with us," motor sport director Wolff told Speed Week.

"So of course it's unpleasant, but it's a decision they've taken. We also look forward to having another competitor in F1 -- Honda is a top brand and, as the saying goes, competition is good for business," the Austrian added.

Wolff said Mercedes is not worried its only other current customer engine partner, Force India, could also jump ship to Honda.

"No, because everyone has only a limited ability to supply customer teams.

"For us, it's somewhere between three and four teams, and we're confident that in the coming years we will have at least three (Mercedes-powered) teams in formula one," he said.

That implies that Mercedes is now looking for a replacement for McLaren beyond 2014.

(GMM)

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