Wolff says teams interested in Mercedes 'customer cars'

Sun May 24, 2015 5:17am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MONACO (Reuters) - Three Formula One teams have asked Mercedes about the possibility of acquiring 'customer cars' if the rules allow it, according to Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff.

The Austrian brushed aside a suggestion that none of the smaller constructors, many of them struggling financially, wanted to relinquish their status and run cars provided by others.

"It's interesting they say that because three of them came to see me (on Friday) about whether we could supply customer cars to them," Wolff told reporters ahead of Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.

The subject is controversial, with critics saying such a change would lead to a two-tier sport dominated by the major manufacturers.

Advocates argue that is already the case and say the sport needs to do something to ensure there are enough cars on the starting grid and reduce the costs of competing.

There are currently 10 teams, with tail-enders Manor Marussia surviving by the skin of their teeth after going into administration last year.

Sauber, Lotus and Force India have all had financial problems while former champions Red Bull have raised the possibility of quitting if Renault fail to provide them with a competitive engine or walk away themselves.

Force India and Lotus are already customers of Mercedes, using their power units, but both have said publicly they want to make and race their own cars as the current rules stipulate.   Continued...

Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff smiles in the garage during the second practice session of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 21, 2014. REUTERS/Caren Firouz