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As rumored, Mercedes-Benz has decided to part ways with McLaren after 15 years as partners in Formula 1, opting instead to buy a majority stake in the Brawn GP team. The new team, named Mercedes Grand Prix, will run in the 2010 F1 season, keeping much of the Brawn team, including team principal Ross Brawn.
The Brawn GP team entered the 2009 Formula One World Championship as serious underdogs, using the underperforming Honda cars. And yet, the team managed to clinch both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Championships.
“We look back on 15 successful years of great collaboration with McLaren; in that time, we won four world-championship titles and finished ten times as runner-up in the drivers’ and constructors’ rankings,” siad Norbert Haug, VP of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. “Since the first victory in the 1997 Australian Grand Prix, the modern Silver Arrows have achieved a total of 60 victories in 223 races to ensure that our brand symbol, the star, stands for the greatest successes in Formula 1. We thank our partner and will continue to work with McLaren based on an excellent partnership.”
Daimler AG boss Dr. Dieter Zetsche thanked McLaren stating that, “For the benefit of both Mercedes and McLaren, we will continue our partnership cooperation in future. We will be rivals on-track but, off-track, we will cooperate with McLaren and the other teams in order to create the best possible product for spectators worldwide.”
The partnership between the two companies is much more strained than that, however, as Mercedes has also announced it will let McLaren buy back the 40 percent stake it now holds. That transaction should be completed by 2011, fully dissolving the Mercedes McLaren business relationship.
Official release after the jump:
Michael Schumacher rumored to be replacement driver
Ferrari Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa suffered a fractured skull in two separate places after being hit in the head by a piece of debris on the track while testing at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The debris was actually a suspension spring which came off of the car of Brawn GP driver and fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. It was immediately obvious something was seriously wrong when Massa made no attempt to steer the car clear of any obstacles and simply locked up the brakes to shave up as much speed as possible before slamming into a tire wall.
Massa was immediately airlifted to the AEK hospital in Budapest where he underwent emergency surgery. Peter Bazo, medical director at the hospital said that Massa’s injuries were life threatening but that he was “slightly improving.” After surgery he was put into a coma and has since been woken three times to meet with his family, including his wife who is pregnant with the couple’s first child.
The accident came just a week after Formula 2 driver Henry Surtees was killed at a race at Brands Hatch in the U.K. after being hit int he head by a tire.
Massa, a constant top-contender in the Formula 1 world championship, was just coming off a third-place finish at the German GP two weeks earlier (pictured celebrating above). With just three weeks until the next race, the Ferrari team is in need of a replacement driver. Ferrari has two strong candidates, but there is also speculation that Michael Schumacher could come out of retirement to race in Massa’s stead.