Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche says Mercedes and Ferrari are "100 percent aligned" on the future direction of Formula One.
Following the arrival of new owners Liberty Media last year, Formula One is preparing for a period of change ahead of the expiration of its existing commercial contracts at the end of 2020. Liberty is in the process of discussing its vision for the future of the sport with the teams, with the latest round of discussions due to take place at the next Strategy Group meeting on Thursday.
Liberty is hoping to use the end of the existing contracts to level the playing field between large teams like Mercedes and F1's smaller outfits, but has already faced a quit threat from Ferrari. Mercedes has been less vocal than its on-track rival about its concerns over the future of the sport, but Zetsche says the German manufacturer's thinking is in line with Ferrari even if its approach to negotiations is different.
"We are the good cop and the bad cop," he told Autocar. "We beat each other like crazy on the track and try to get every tenth of a second of advantage but at the same time we are 100% aligned on our thoughts in Formula One and our strategic actions in Formula One. We are good friends."
Mercedes existing contract with Formula One runs through to the end of 2020, and while Zetsche is keen for the brand to remain in the sport, he said the sport also has to remain "meaningful" to Mercedes.
"We are there to stay in Formula 1 but of course the platform itself has to stay meaningful and develop positively."
He added: "To be clear, we want to be successful and we want the platform to be successful and when one is dominant that doesn't help. We need stronger competitors and rule changes which give new cars to everybody and to some extent, this last season was that change."
Speaking in an interview with ESPN last month, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said talks with Liberty were continuing in a "friendly way" and that perceived barriers between Mercedes and F1 over future engine regulations were not as big as they may seem.
"I think it's important to acknowledge that the other side might have a different opinion on things. I don't think there are massive barriers between us on the engine. They recognise it needs to be high-tech and we don't want to develop a completely new engine, so there is pretty much an alignment there.
"We need cars that are fast and spectacular, but you need to be able to overtake. We need to have a percent of the attention, we need tracks that you can overtake and where mistakes are being penalised, so this is our job and we actually want it to prosper.
"We can cope with any regulation change. There is no team in the world that has won with every single championship and this is something that we are pretty realistic about."