Dieter Zetsche: F1 success has link to improved Mercedes car sales

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The chairman of Daimler Dr Dieter Zetsche says Mercedes' success in Formula One has had a direct effect on car sales over the last three years.

Mercedes returned to Formula One as a constructor in 2010 and has won the last two titles with dominant performances on track. Company data shows Mercedes sold 1,722,600 units in 2014, which is an all-time high and up from 1,565,600 in 2013.

Zetsche claims part of Mercedes recent sales success is linked to the image of "coolness" Formula One provides.

"Certainly it's difficult to scientifically develop a correlation between our efforts and success in motor sport and our success on the business side," he said. "But I'm totally convinced that it is not by accident that in the last three years our brand has developed a fantastic momentum and coolness factor and this resulted ultimately in lots of sales.

"At the same time we took off in motor sport and I think that is not by accident, there is a strong correlation in both directions. The mindset is one important element and if you get a winner's mindset and you do not get arrogant, that gives you a lot of power and energy going forward."

Zetsche is convinced Formula One remains a useful marketing tool for Mercedes, which also provides three teams with customer engines.

"We are convinced that the Mercedes brand is defined on the one hand by its intelligence and coolness that is a factor that is based on rationality and on the other side emotions. Motor sport represents both. On the one hand it is pure emotion but on the other requires intelligence of the best technical solutions at the same time.

"As far as size is concerned, there are hundreds of millions of viewers for every race on TV screens around the globe and this is comparable only with events like the World Cup or Olympic Games. The only difference is that it is not every fourth year but this year 21 times in one year. That's a great platform and therefore extremely important for us."

Head of Mercedes motor sport Toto Wolff said it is important Formula One continues to move with the times in order to remain relevant to young customers.

"We spend lots of time talking about that. Formula One stands for technology, Formula One stands for the raw sport and Formula One stands for entertainment and you just need to get the mix right of the two. As a matter of fact, the younger generation have a completely different pattern in the way they consume content.

"You are the ones that face the same problems like any other content, like any other sport, people transition from print and traditional TV in to digital media. Of course, trying to understand how we should broadcast, how we should deliver content is a key question. It is a difficult one because we are seeing audiences in the digital space going through the roof, very difficult to monetise for Formula One.

"As long as we have cool drivers - and I think we have the coolest drivers out there so it is a good sport - and the right entertainment factor, it is what we need to deliver. But we need to understand there is a transition from switching on the TV on Sunday afternoon in to different spaces and we need to acknowledge that and we need to position ourselves in order to bring our sport in to those channels."