Interview: Zetsche hoping in spirited Mercedes-Ferrari battle

The 62-year-old also played down the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, stating it’s normal for two drivers who are fighting for the title to not get along. Interview by Pino Allievi of La Gazzetta dello Sport

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche  attends a press conference ahead of the opening of the 66th IAA auto show in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on September 16, 2015. 
AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN

After a successful season that saw Mercedes win both titles, President Dieter Zetsche is keen to see the team have an intense battle with Ferrari this campaign, with his side coming out on top in the end.

The Formula 1 season begins in just over a month, with teams already hard at work in preparation of the Australian Grand Prix on March 15.

Zetsche is looking forward to another successful season for his Mercedes outfit, though he hopes for F1 and its fans that Ferrari prove to be a formidable challenger.

Dieter Zetsche1

Mercedes seem destined to remain in Formula 1 for quite some time.

“That is the plan, as long as F1 remains relevant. We want to be part of the next developments to the series.”

Given what Mercedes has accomplished on its own, do you regret not taking that step sooner?

“I never look back, but if I do I see what we won two titles with McLaren. We won a lot and if we are where we are today it’s also thanks to our previous experiences.”

How did you become friends with Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne?

“We’ve been friends for a long time. We respect each other and we get along. Sometimes we are on opposing sides, but we are always able to reach a solution. It’s important when you are part of the same business, to have someone you can consider a friend on the other side.”

DOPO SUCCESSO FERRARI MARCHIONNE GUARDA A CONTI FCA

It’s no coincidence that Mercedes have impressed since Niki Lauda and his right-hand man Toto Wolff joined the team. How important has Lauda been?

“He has a lot of experience and is well respected. He has a clear vision and works well with Toto. Those ingredients have helped our success.”

So Lauda will remain with Mercedes for quite some time?

“I would say yes.”

Are you worried by the fact that Ferrari are convinced they can win the first race in Australia?

“I wouldn’t say worried, but it’s true that I would like to see a real battle between us and Ferrari for the title, with us on top. A battle between the two teams would be great for F1.”

Mercedes Formula One drivers Lewis Hamilton of Britain and Nico Rosberg of Germany speak after the qualifying session for the Mexican F1 Grand Prix at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City

Why did Mercedes, like Ferrari, not want to supply Red Bull with engines?

“They never formally asked us for them. There were discussions but there was never an official request.”

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg no longer speak to one another. Is there a way to get them on the same page for the good of Mercedes?

“I don’t think they will ever be the best of friends because they are both giving their all for the title. But that is good for the fans, right?”

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