Reports are swirling in the German media today alleging that Toto Wolff will soon relinquish his role at the helm of the Mercedes F1 team although he would retain his ownership in the outfit.
Auto Bild and F1 Insider are claiming that the future of Mercedes in Formula 1 beyond the 2020 season is currently being debated behind closed doors at Daimler.
The reports suggest that Wolff will resign as the Brackley squad's team boss before the 2020 gets underway in Austria in July but the stories offer no insight into the identity of his potential successor.
Wolff holds a 30% stake in the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team, while Daimler owns 70% of the company.
One scenario that could be in the works would see a buy-out of Daimler's stake by Aston Martin, in which executive chairman and Racing Point team owner Lawrence Stroll owns 25%, while Wolff also holds a small stake in the British automotive manufacturer.
However, the acquisition would rely on a payment in Aston shares, with Daimler therefore increasing its current holding in Aston Martin Lagonda, and the scheme ultimately leaving Stroll and Wolff as the majority owners of the Mercedes F1 team.
As a reminder, Aston Martin nominated earlier this week former Mercedes AMG boss Tobias Moers - a man close to Daimler CEO Ola Källenius - as the sportscar manufacturer's new top man.
It's possible that Moers' appointment was the first part of a game plan that is currently unfolding for Daimler and involving Mercedes' exit from F1, at least as a works team as the German manufacturer would remain in the sport as an engine supplier, with contracts in place for 2021 with Williams, Racing Point and McLaren.
Needless to say, the move that is allegedly in the works sparks questions about the future of Lewis Hamilton in F1. The six-time world champion has yet to commit to Mercedes for 2021 and beyond, and has often linked his plans to Wolff's own fate.
Reports emerged last week that Valtteri Bottas had initiated talks with Renault for 2021, so one could deduct that the Finn has perhaps already been told about Mercedes' plans to completely revamp its involvement in F1.
Should Aston acquire the Mercedes team, the move would also open questions about the future of Racing Point which is set to become Aston Martin's works outfit in 2021. Would the Silverstone-based outfit remain in the hands of Stroll's consortium of investors or would the Canadian billionaire sell the team?
Russian businessman Dmitry Mazepin, who missed out on Force India's buy-out in 2018, comes to mind as a possible suitor for the pink outfit.
The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn which that has taken the world by storm, and especially the automotive sector, has companies scrambling to devise contingency plans to mitigate the crisis' financial impact.
The speculation in the German media might well turn into fact sooner rather than later.
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