As suggested in yesterday’s post about Ferrari rejecting requests from Ross Brawn to supply engines to the team for 2009, Mercedes-Benz are considering teaming up with the squad. Mercedes currently supply (and part-own) the McLaren team, and the German marque will also supply Force India this season. However, they have the capacity to send a few power units to Brackley as well. There are, however, some conditions that Honda will have to meet.
Mercedes motorsport chief, Norbert Haug, has said that his employers could supply engines to the team, although it remains to be seen iof they can be saved in time for the opening round of the 2009 championship. With only 71 days until the paddock descends on Albert Park in Melbourne, time is quickly ticking away.
If there is a feasible solution with an investor for that team, we would be prepared to discuss it. But the financial background needs to be there. Norbert Haug.
Haug obviously has concerns about signing a contract with the team only to have them disappear mid-season due to lack of funds. This would leave Mercedes high and dry, and with the current economic climate the way it is, the automobile industry is being very careful about what it spends its money on.
You cannot give any presents at this time and in this [financial] climate, but we would like to help for the sake of Formula One. Ross Brawn and Nick Fry and their guys have done a good job so far, so if we could be in a position to help we certainly could try to do so. But the financial feasibility is very important. It needs to be 100 per cent bulletproof. Norbert Haug.
Haug was insistent to point out that any extra workload caused by a deal with Honda would not infringe on the current pace of development, although the German was also keen to say that the engine department are working flat out, and that even the change from V10 to V8 wasn’t as labour intensive. Engines in 2009 will have to last 3 races, the revs have been reduced and the plant ideally needs to incorporate KERS technology.
We have lots to do with KERS and the new rev limit and so on, which is a really big task. You have to do longer runs with the engines to prove they are ready. The guys in Brixworth are working flat out like never before. Even when we changed to V8 there was not as much to do as there is now. Norbert Haug.
Hopefully Honda can do a deal with Mercedes, but it would have to be signed and sealed very soon. Ross Brawn has stated that it would take about six weeks to modify the RA109 to accommodate a new engine, and with the cars being shipped out to Australia in mid-March, this leaves the team until the end of January to sort contracts out.
The race for Honda right now is perhaps more frantic than any grand prix they have taken part in.