Before we delve into the headline, it must be stated that what follows is pure speculation based on putting together the jigsaw pieces in front of us and coming up with a bigger picture.
As we stand Mercedes are on the cusp of 16 Formula 1 World Championship titles in eight years, meaning that their Superstar driver Lewis Hamilton is likely to rack up title number eight in the process. Process that.
It has been a remarkable decade since the Silver Arrows morphed out of the 2009 F1 title-winning Brawn Grand Prix (a year earlier aka Honda) and then duked it out in the midpack early on with Michael Schumacher reloaded and young gun (at the time) Nico Rosberg in the sister car.
But ambitions were very high in the camp, thus Niki Lauda, Ross Brawn and Toto Wolff convinced Hamilton to join the team, which he did amid a barrage of criticism. Fast forward ten years and they were wrong, and the British driver was right.
Mercedes have scored a remarkable 106 Grand Prix victories since Rosberg opened their account with his first win at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix. Hamilton winning 74 of those.
Prior to that only Juan Manuel Fangio (eight wins) and Stirling Moss (one win) had stood on the top step of the podium for the German team, in the mid-fifties.
History shows that over the past decade Mercedes have shattered just about every record there is in Formula 1, setting the benchmark so high their rivals are left wanting time and time again. They are serial winners in a turbo-hybrid power unit era they mastered like no other manufacturer was able to do.
For their almost unbeatable PUs, they also built a collection of title-winning chassis like no other team in the history of the sport, the finest breed ever seen on race tracks anywhere.
What is left for them to achieve?
With all this in mind, some research, a few long calls, some WhatsApp sleuthing, I started assembling the puzzle, and the picture emerging is like this:
At some point during the course of this season – it would be fitting when they win their eighth consecutive F1 constructors’ title – there will come an announcement that Mercedes will step out of the top flight as a F1 team but will remain as an engine supplier.
The current Brackley operation will continue in tandem with the Silverstone factory rebuild and become Aston Martin headed by Lawrence Stroll and his select billionaire buddies and an impressive alliance of heavy hitters, including Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, four-times F1 champion Sebastian Vettel and, of course, Daimler themselves have now 20% of the cake.
As a result, the current Aston Martin (aka Racing Point) operation will pass over to Dmitry Mazepin and his Uralkali operation or an alternative buyer from China or Monaco or even turned into a B-Team. It will remain in the fold.
Mazepin is itching to buy a team, the Russian billionaire put in a bid for Force India, at the same time that Stroll did, and lost out.
Mazepin and his consortium were not impressed and went to court. Read Dieter Rencken’s incredibly detailed report on the saga here>>> It’s an important read in a bigger picture context.
With more and more puzzle pieces in place, it is clear that Mercedes started to sniff a bail-out plan around the time Force India became Racing Point.
They bought into Stroll’s vision which no doubt contained the blueprint for what we will see evolve in the months to come, but make no mistake this plan is cast in stone and nothing will derail it.
This masterplan gives Mercedes the opportunity to leave as the Best Formula 1 Team Ever – a legacy their spin-doctors can milk for at least another fifty years – and return to the role of F1 engine supplier in their retirement.
For a motor manufacturer departing F1 is normally with their tail between their legs, this way you could not script a better exit for Merc; a win-win situation for all concerned for 2022:
Stroll gets the current Mercedes operation to rebrand as Aston Martin;
This frees up Force India/Racing Point/Aston Martin so that Mazepin gets his F1 team;
Mercedes AMG High-Performance Powertrains supplies Aston Martin, Mazepin F1 Team, Williams and McLaren.
They all lived happily ever after?
In conclusion, you may ask when the picture in the puzzle started to emerge?
The answer is simple: when Hamilton inked a one-year contract extension deal with Mercedes. Think about it…
Inside Line is an opinion piece by Paul Velasco, GrandPrix247 editor-in-chief