May 12, 2017 / 4:34 PM / 2 months ago

Motor racing: Force India would be against Mercedes helping Honda

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Britain Formula One - F1 - 2017 Mercedes Formula One Car Launch - Silverstone - 23/2/17 Mercedes' Executive Director Toto Wolff during the launch Reuters / Eddie Keogh Livepic

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Force India, who use Mercedes engines, would be against the German manufacturer helping Honda to improve their Formula One power units, the team's deputy principal Bob Fernley said on Friday.

Media reports last month suggested that Mercedes, whose works team have been world champions for the past three years, had discussions with Honda about providing consultancy assistance.

Joint ventures between manufacturers are common in the auto industry.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff, who is also a team shareholder, initially refused to comment but then told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix that "we're not doing anything for Honda".

However, he left the door open by saying that was "the current status quo".

"Unless that situation changes, I don't want to contribute to rumours out there that are false and that I think are damaging for Honda and create hardened standpoints from teams or other stakeholders. We'll see what happens," he added.

Fernley, sitting alongside at the regular Friday news conference, said his team would take a dim view of any cooperation.

"As a team that is not only paying for its engines but contributed to the development, I would certainly be very negative towards sharing that technology with another team that is a competitor of ours," he said.

Force India finished a best ever fourth overall last season while former champions McLaren, the only team currently partnered with Honda who are due also to supply Swiss-based Sauber next year, were sixth.

McLaren have had a nightmare season so far, failing to score a point and with double world champion Fernando Alonso unable to start in Russia two weeks ago due to engine problems.

His car broke down again on Friday at his home race with an oil leak and the Spaniard was slowest of all in the afternoon session.

Wolff said Honda was an important part of Formula One and he was sure the Japanese manufacturer would get to where they expected to be eventually.

Editing by Ed Osmond

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