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Premium Member 1999 SLK230-sold
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Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff claims to have been approached by three other current Formula 1 teams with regard to becoming a customer.

The subject of customer car teams has been on the agenda since it dominated a Strategy Group meeting earlier this month, with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone insisting the plan could be pushed through.

To date, Sauber, Lotus, and now Force India, have made clear they have no intention of taking on such a status, while Williams has also long said it would not go down that route.

Williams is now regarded as a leading team, alongside Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, with Toro Rosso naturally affiliated to the latter.

That leaves just four teams, and two - Force India and Lotus - are already 'customers' in that they have a power-unit supply contract with Mercedes.

Wolff said: "We need to have a contingency plan in place, and customer cars, or franchises, we have seen it in other sports, in NASCAR, and it functions pretty well.

"So if the contingency is about supplying our cars to customer teams, hopefully current teams, then yes we will very much be looking into it.

"Of course, it's about refining it, and what the sporting and technical regulations will be around it, but I wouldn't rule it out."

Put to Wolff the midfield teams had all ruled out the idea, he revealed: "It's interesting they say that because three of them came to see me yesterday [Friday] about whether we could supply customer cars. So it's not true.

"It is a good model. As a contingency plan it works, and if we can find a business case around it, we shouldn't rule it out."

Force India team boss Vijay Mallya, however, has now joined Sauber counterpart Monisha Kaltenborn and Lotus CEO Matthew Carter in ruling out becoming a customer marque.

"We've always been a constructor and we want to remain a constructor; we don't agree with the customer car concept," Mallya told AUTOSPORT.

"All I can say is the Strategy Group is dominated by the big teams who write the rules and they all protect their own interests and probably couldn't care less about sport.

"This is the only sport I know of where the participants are writing the rules, when normally it's the regulator and the promoter.

"But this is a funny case unique to this sport where the big four are writing the rules, and determining not only the technical regulations, but also financial distribution."

I can see it now I Mercedes Body with a Honda Engine.:grin:
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