Michael Schumacher should be credited for part of Mercedes’ outstanding success in F1 according to team boss Toto Wolff.
Schumacher came out of a plush retirement in 2010 to join Mercedes after the German manufacturer took over the reins at championship winning team Brawn GP.
The team was competitive upon its return to the sport as a works team but lacked the resources to really match the results of rivals Red Bull Racing and Ferrari.
Intensive lobbying of the Mercedes board by Schumacher in 2012, supported by Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug, resulted in a significant budget increase for 2013, when Wolff was placed at the helm of the Silver Arrows outfit.
“Michael has a large share [in Mercedes’ success],” Wolff told Motorsport-Total.
“If BrawnGP had not existed, and without Norbert’s vision of a team of his own, with Michael as its star driver, our success story would not have existed.
“The change in the perception of the board for our project took place at the end of 2012 and at the beginning of 2013.”
During 2012, Mercedes consulted with Wolff, a Williams shareholder at the time, about how to transform the manufacturer’s outfit into a winning proposition.
“As an external person, I was asked to make a comparison as to whether the organization and resources of the Mercedes team could meet their own expectations in order to win the world championship.
“There was a gap between their expectations and what was actually possible. The budget increase took place in 2013.
“The view I presented at the time was: ‘We can go on like this. Then my realistic assessment would be somewhere between third and sixth place. Or we can take a step towards Red Bull. Then I think that over the years, with the new 2014 regulations, we can fight for the world championship.”
Wolff would ultimately go on to join Mercedes and become a shareholder of its team along with non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
But it was Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche who decided that the challenge in F1 was worth an additional investment, allowing Mercedes to go “all in” as Wolff recalled.
“This decision had to be made, and that decision was made by Dieter Zetsche and his colleagues on the board. In poker you would say: ‘All in!’
“We have repaid this trust, not only with the success on the track, but also with the financial incentives that came with it.
“S the price-performance ratio of our commitment is very good today.”