The implications of Daimler Chrysler

MAY 11, 1998

The implications of Daimler Chrysler

THE merger between Daimler Benz and Chrysler could have very interesting repercussions in Formula 1 racing. The surprise merger seems to be a perfect fit with Mercedes wanting to expand into the mass market middle-range sectors and Chrysler wanting to make a bigger impact in Europe where it has only one percent of the market. The interesting thing for Formula 1 fans is that both Mercedes - Daimler's car company - and Chrysler are both keen to use Formula 1 racing to promote their products.

Chrysler came very close to launching a major Formula 1 program back in 1993. The company had been involved in F1 through its Italian subsidiary Lamborghini and this program led to increased Chrysler involvement. In mid-1993 Chrysler bosses Bob Eaton and Bob Lutz decided to take the plunge and asked McLaren to build a car with which to assess the Lamborghini V12 engine, to see if it might become a top-level engine. The car was tested during the summer of 1993 by both Mika Hakkinen and Ayrton Senna and a verbal agreement was reached between Eaton and McLaren's Ron Dennis for a program to be started.

McLaren later decided to join forces with Peugeot and the sudden switch of direction left Chrysler without the possibility of doing a deal with a top F1 team. The Lamborghini V10 program was cancelled by furious Chrysler management, although in the years which followed it was clear that Chrysler still felt that F1 was a valuable marketing tool if the right opportunity were to arise.

It is ironic that five years after the McLaren-Lamborghini debacle, Chrysler has merged with Daimler-Benz, the parent company of McLaren's current engine supplier. Logic dictates that Chrysler could very simply and easily get into F1 racing by using a rebadged Mercedes V10. This would be competitive and would guarantee that both Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz could exploit F1.

It is also an idea that would appeal to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone because the current McLaren-Mercedes domination is not likely to be threatened in the next couple of years. A Chrysler engine supply would produce a competitor for McLaren. The idea would probably be opposed by McLaren which does not really want the competition.

Other stories for MAY 11, 1998

BENETTON AND FORD

MECACHROME AIMING FOR FOUR SUPPLIES?

BAR DRIVING FORCES

THE IMPLICATIONS OF DAIMLER CHRYSLER

HONDA AND DALLARA

A FORMULA 1 SOAP

NASCAR COMES VISITING

A GRAND PRIX IN INDIA