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Mercedes workers angry at Schumi F1 contract

AFP/DPA/The Local · 24 Dec 2009, 17:35

Published: 24 Dec 2009 12:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Dec 2009 17:35 GMT+01:00

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"This is hard to justify to our people," work council chief Uwe Werner declared. Speaking in Thursday's edition of the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, Werner said the board of Mercedes-makers Daimler was forcing savings on its German workers, and moving part of its production overseas, while at the same time spending millions on Formula One. "This is not understandable for many colleagues," Werner said.

Having retired in 2006, Schumacher, who turns 41 on January 3, will reportedly be paid €7 million to be on the grid when the new season starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 14.

The Daimler board justified the sensational contract with Schumacher, signed Tuesday, as an investment in the future, but Werner is not convinced that it will help the image and marketing of the Mercedes brand.

"The employees would have understood better if Mercedes had withdrawn from the expensive Formula One business," he said.

Earlier this month, Daimler decided after other cost-cutting measures to move some of its production of C-class cars from Germany to the US city Tuscaloosa. It is unclear whether the move will lead to job cuts here.

Meanwhile an automobile industry expert said he doubted the Schumacher deal would pay off for Mercedes.

"Mercedes in particular is a company for which sportiness is not a selling point but rather security and quality," Ferdinand Dudenhöffer of the University of Duisburg-Essen in western Germany told Bayerische Rundfunk public radio. "Why should a driver decide to buy a Mercedes because of Formula One?"

He said the cost of investing in F1 would have to be passed on to consumers.

"Every car will have to be sold for €200 to €300 more for Mercedes to finance Formula One," he said.

Story continues below…

But Mercedes sport chief Norbert Haug dismissed the criticism.

"The whole engagement will sell a lot of cars and make a lot of people aware of the quality of the star," he told ZDF public television, referring to the company emblem.

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:26 December 24, 2009 by mixxim
7 million is too much, he is too old and burnt out. Time will show that the money would have been better spent putting optional controls on the right of the car....
15:56 December 24, 2009 by Heinrich der Zweite
It'l be great to see Schumi racing again. Yesterday there were many, including Schumi of course, celebrating his return to the track. Maybe it's because of this, so to say, second time around, that although I'm not the least bit superstitious, I do have this somewhat uneasy feeling in the back of my mind that something untowards might happen. And not just something to do with his neck injury. I have the feeling that the sekt corks are flying a bit too high. It's balls of course, but I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Maybe he should just sit back on his laurels. But you can't kill his enthusiasm and I'm very happy for him.
16:57 December 24, 2009 by Deviate
That's an absolute bargain for a legend.

I agree with Timmah. Great price for what they will get in return.
20:16 December 24, 2009 by Legal E
It would be nice to know what the wage of the workers council is and what real added value they give...

7 Mil for Michael is a bargain as the advertising revenue he will bring will bring more bang per buck.

Mr. Werner should think how much value he brings to Merc and the German economy.
10:01 December 25, 2009 by Keny
Why is racing cars a sport? It's a business like most professional "sports." True sports are those where people get together and play a game and do it for fun. Anything that has money attached to it is not a sport, it is a business.

As to Shumi and Mercedes, well good luck to them, but I agree with the comment that Mercedes are way over priced and not that good a car anymore.
15:21 December 25, 2009 by ron1amr
i agree with Keny. That racing is a business. The fact that the price of fuel is ever increasing yet f1 will keep going as if there is no tomorrow. it would be interesting if they all raced using battery power and just swap batteries at pit stops. With global warming at an unprecedented, it makes sense for all car and oil companies to turn green. Bring out all the shelved technology and start breathing clean air. There are already people turning against this type of sport because of the waste of fuel. I would love to see alternative energy type racing and they go fast also.
16:26 December 25, 2009 by cleavage
If only he had a personality. You'll see, Tiger Woods all over...
18:35 December 25, 2009 by Scotsaab
Schumacher will undoubtedly raise the profile of Mercedes-Benz - but you have to ask if the badge really needs it? What is more worrying is the partial production of the C-Class in Alabama. Has Mercedes not learned from its disastrous involvement with the US? The Chrysler mess and the dreadful quality issues generated by the early MLs that were buiult in the US and initially sold in Europe. I drive a German-built W129 SL and frankly, wouldn't want any Mercedes that had been assembled in US car plant.
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