The German media has triggered a wave of speculation and gossip, with the Bild newspaper reporting that Timo Glock and Marussia are set to part ways, while Williams’ executive director Toto Wolff is reportedly set to take over Norbert Haug’s old role as the head of Mercedes-Benz’s motorsport activities.
We’re going against the trend of much of the motorsport media by declaring that Glock’s split with Marussia – set to be formally announced tomorrow – is hardly a surprise.
After the occasional flash of form with Jordan and Toyota, he moved to debutants Marussia (then known as Virgin Racing) in 2010, and has floundered ever since in three seasons of uncompetitive machinery paired alongside three rookie team-mates who have refused to lie down and be beaten by the vastly more experienced German.
With the team narrowly missing out on the all-important tenth place in the 2012 Constructors’ Championship standings, the lack of FOM income under the new Concorse Agreement terms leaves Marussia with a financial hole that needs filling.
Glock brings little, if any, sponsorship backing, and with the team needing to shore up its finances, one would assume someone else has come along with enough backing to pay him out and still keep the team’s coffers ticking.
The real question is who that driver could be, and the logical choice – among a host of possible candidates – is Vitaly Petrov, who is currently in negotiations with Caterham to remain on the grid.
A Russian driver in a Russian team is a sensible commercial move, particularly given that former Soviet powerhouse is set to host its very own Grand Prix from 2014 onwards.
What would not make sense is to stick another well-funded rookie alongside its already-signed well-funded rookie called Max Chilton; hence, Petrov is the logical frontrunner here. Then again, it could be a whole host of other experienced runners with generous sponsors…
Glock, meanwhile, is rumoured to be the candidate to take one of the vacant Mercedes seats on the 2013 DTM grid.
The Wolff-to-Mercedes story is much more fascinating. The Austrian is a minority shareholder in Williams (which runs Renault engines) and co-owner of the HWA Mercedes DTM team, and it’s what will happen to his Williams shareholding that will remain the major point of interest if indeed the rumours do turn out to have some truth in them.
It is understood that an ‘in principle’ deal has been reached between Mercedes and Wolff, who was widely tipped as Sir Frank Williams’ natural successor to lead the Grove team.
While his shareholding in HWA has never been a source of conflict since his appointment to the Williams board last year, his involvement in Mercedes’ broader motorsport activities certainly will.