COMPETITION NEEDED: Mercedes' CEO Dieter Zetsche wants a new challenge in Formula 1. He's thrown down a gauntlet to BMW and Audi. Image: AP / Felipe Dana
STUTTGART, Germany - Mercedes would like to go up against Germany's other two premium automakers, BMW and Audi, in Formula 1.
The challenge came from Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche after Mercedes-Benz and sister enginemaker AMG won both 2014 F1 championships - Drivers' and Constructors' - by huge margins.
Zetsche told Germany's Sport Bild: "We share - and I'm talking about the premium business - about 80% of the world market with Audi and BMW. Of course, we greatly admire Red Bull and Ferrari and the other teams, nevertheless other manufacturers' teams would be very much welcomed by us."
Mercedes bought and renamed the title-winning Brawn GP team - formerly Honda - after 2009 and initially targeted success with now F1 legend Michael Schumacher but Zetsche admitted: "We never imagined that success would be so difficult and take so long to achieve."
Nevertheless, Mercedes was now fully committed to F1.
"If we do something, we do it properly," Zetsche, 61, added. Then commented that the new battery-car Formula E was "worth considering" from Mercedes' point of view - but he ruled out Le Mans.
"A whole year working for 24 hours, we do not consider to be a good cost-benefit radio," he explained.
He also played down all the current talk about F1 being in crisis: "It is absurd to say F1 is dead. I cannot think of a more exciting season. All the criticism was led largely by those who were not successful.
'MORE COMMITTED THAN EVER'
He also blamed people such as Bernie Ecclestone for talking-down F1 during 2014. "Most definitely we have not sufficiently exploited the potential of F1 because the official channels of communication have not been used in a professional way.
"We are more committed than ever to contributing to professionalise the sport in this regard; better engagement of younger fans is a central question."