Austrian investor and current executive director of Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Toto Wolff, has once again warned the Formula One owners and stakeholders not to “mess” with Scuderia Ferrari regarding the future of the sport. The Maranello-based Italian team have previously threatened to quit Formula 1 because of proposed changes by Liberty Media, which took over the running of the sport at the end of 2016.
Liberty Media want a “new direction” for F1, as BBC reported back in November, with proposed new engine designs and a budget cap for teams from 2021. But Scuderia Ferrari, whose current deal with F1 expires in 2020, have said they could walk away. At the time Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said that F1 had been “part of our DNA since the day we were born”, yet explained that ” if we change the sandbox to the point it becomes unrecognisable, I don’t want to play any more”
Mercedes’s executive director, Toto Wolff, told the BBC that the Ferrari chief’s threat should not be taken lightly: “Sergio Marchionne has a clear vision of what F1 should represent for Ferrari, which is a purist sport that isn’t a shopping channel,” said Toto Wolff, as reported by the British media earlier today – “I would strongly encourage the sport’s stakeholders not to provoke him. So, don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne. F1 needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs F1.”
Ferrari are unhappy with the proposed redistribution of prize money and the concept of a simpler engine. And while Wolff stressed that he was keen for the sport’s major players to work together and seek consensus on the correct way forward, the Austrian, who has overseen Mercedes’ dominance of F1 for the past four years, could not rule out the prospect of a breakaway championship: “The perspective of doing something else is a realistic one, and it could happen if we don’t achieve to align our vision.” – Toto Wolff concluded.