Given the cost of up-keeping a top-level F1 team, it would be easy to think that as an investment, the sport leaves something to be desired. According to Wolff, however, this is not the case for Daimler AG.
The German marque rejoined F1 in 2010 as a full team and while the first years were rough, they became front-of-field after the 2014 regulation change to V6 hybrids. Their dominance has remained anchored, as they have won six championships since then.
All of it is making it worthwhile financially for Daimler, even in a time of the EV revolution, where the group has also started its operations in FIA Formula E Championship – which has sparked speculations about its F1 programme being terminated.
But considering the ROI, Wolff says otherwise as he pointed to the marketing aspect of F1 and also the technological development to defend his case on the topic – one which is made even more relevant as Mercedes reevaluates their position in racing.
“F1 represents one of the best return investments within the Daimler Group,” said Wolff to media including FormulaRapida.net. “We’re generating more than a billion in return. In the end, it’s all about the brand, and I think what we are doing is great entertainment.
“It’s also technology. It’s the most efficient hybrid engines, and giving the brand also a sporty image. I think since we’ve started on our successful journey in 2014, we have been a part of shaping a different brand image of Mercedes.
“Of course, the road cars are there and the style, and the technology through has been the most relevant part, but I think us winning F1 championships and races have had a small contribution to changing the way the brand is perceived.
“The board members see it as a positive exercise, and something that Daimler AG actually benefits from.” Having said so, Wolff did acknowledge that it would be beneficial to use less of Daimler’s resources with the changing world and also F1 regulations.
“I think, I am the one that’s responsible for the motor racing activities, but I am also the first one to acknowledge, that, in times when the auto industry is changing, that all activities need to be looked at,” said Wolff, when asked regarding Mercedes’ future.
“F1 and motor racing is generally an activity that we believe is part of our core DNA. The first ever Mercedes was a race car, and I think we need to become more efficient [going forward] and we need to provide a sort of business case.
“We need to reduce the contribution from Daimler into our exercises, and if we are able to achieve that, then we are in F1 for the long term.”
[This story was written by me on FormulaRapida, and edited by Darshan Chokhani]