Toto Wolff has reiterated that Mercedes will not supply engines to Red Bull next season, and says that no new discussions have taken place.
Wolff and Niki Lauda had a lengthy meeting with Bernie Ecclestone today, but Wolff denies that the F1 boss was trying to twist his arm and reverse the decision.
“It was a conversation about general topics – life!,” Wolff told this writer. “Bernie doesn’t twist arms, Bernie makes it very subtle. Honestly, we didn’t discuss the topic. It might sound strange, we have every day a discussion and this was a very public one, but there was nothing spectacular we discussed.
“We really took some time to analyse the situation over the summer. We tried to understand what Red Bull’s situation was, and expected or waited for some feedback, and finally when things didn’t move we decided to pursue our current strategy by supplying Williams and the independent teams, and not pursue the Red Bull option.
“We didn’t change our opinion. It got a bit confused at the beginning of the week with certain statements, but it didn’t change. We have three customers teams plus us, and this is the structure that we want to work with.”
Yesterday Ecclestone made it clear that he was frustrated that Red Bull had started to talk to Mercedes before Manor, and yet the latter managed to secure a deal. However Wolff sees no connection between the two.
“The Manor deal has no link whatsoever with Red Bull. There were many other factors which led to the decision to not pursue what were really early stage discussions.”
Wolff said that he doesn’t believe that Mercedes or Ferrari will be painted as the bad guys for not helping Red Bull.
“I don’t think that anybody put us in that bad guy situation. Every team is responsible for how you manage your business, and this is why I don’t see at all that that happened.”
Meanwhile Toto downplayed the third car option, despite having sounded enthusiastic about when asked in Suzuka.
“We need to all try and do our best to keep Red Bull in the sport, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, because Red Bull is a great brand and has done a lot for F1. If it were to happen the fall back solution would be three cars. But I’d rather have the first thing solved and have Red Bull and have three cars on top of that and have a really full grid of 24, 26 cars.
“It’s clear that not a lot of people have an appetite for three cars, for valid or not valid reasons. If Red Bull and Toro hopefully stay in the sport we’ll have 22 cars anyway next year.”