Mercedes-Benz Buying Out McLaren: The Pros and Cons

Sheiban ShakeriSenior Analyst IJuly 19, 2008

It has been a topic that has been going on since as far back as I can remember. When Mercedes-Benz became the engine supplier of McLaren, it marked a partnership that has been quite amicable in comparison to other engine-team relationships that are brewing.

Mercedes-Benz became the engine supplier for McLaren in 1995 and used a red and white colour scheme that denoted the tobacco sponsor.

When Imperial Tobacco sponsored the team under the West brand, the colour scheme of black and silver emerged putting more speculation that Mercedes-Benz is having an influence. However, silver and black are the colour for West cigarettes, but for those outside the sport, it was Mercedes-Benz.

With the current silver colour scheme that you see on the racer today, it's pretty easy to call the current MP4-23 car a Mercedes more so than a McLaren.

Today, on the eve of the German Grand Prix from Hockenheim, the home of Mercedes-Benz, the issue of buying out McLaren has come to the fore again.

Martin Whitmarsh has been quoted by The International Herald Tribune that the acquisition of McLaren by Mercedes-Benz is just another step in the proverbial ladder. "The fact that they would like to acquire control is a healthy ambition."

Personally, I'm a sucker for silver stars, and I can associate myself as being a fan of the Mercedes-Benz influence than I am of McLaren. I would love it even more if Mercedes-Benz were to have a fully formed Formula One team.

As well, the presence of Mercedes-Benz is more prevalent than that of McLaren.

So, the pros and cons that I see from buying out McLaren.

Pro: Marketability. Mercedes-Benz is known the world over for being luxurious, tough, reliable (that can be disputed) and powerful. My late grandfather had a Mercedes-Benz and used it for over 20 years. Having a Mercedes-Benz Formula One team just cements that name of luxury and reliability even more.

Con: You are losing out on a private team which is only second to Ferrari in terms of championships and going corporate.

Pro: The Mercedes-Benz Formula One Team gives the company a chance to put away the demons of its past.

When you look at the history of the silver star in motorsports, the most notable event that took place is the Le Mans disaster of 1955, where a collision left over 80 spectators dead. That is not to say that Mercedes-Benz was not a success. It was a tremendous success, but it is always the bad things one remembers.

More recently, there is the CLK GTR which literally took flight—off the track!

Con: You are losing out on the technologies that McLaren has helped develop over the many years that it has been a team and sportscar designer.

Pro: While that may be true, buying out does not necessarily mean absolving.

Con: Ron Dennis will be kicked out and someone from corporate will take over.

That is probably my greatest fear. I would not want Mercedes-Benz to take the same path that Toyota is currently on.

However, I do feel that it won't be the same as Toyota because of the cultural differences and work ethic that the Japanese have with the Germans. Not necessarily saying that one is lazier than the other, just their approach to winning.

Overall, I do not know if Ron Dennis and Mansour Oujeh will decide to sell of their shares of McLaren over to Mercedes, but I do know that if Mercedes-Benz does take over, we are going back in time. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Over to the creatures at Bleacher!