Mercedes boss Toto Wolff on Friday urged Formula One owners Liberty Media and the sport’s regulators FIA to come up with an improved deal to avoid a breakaway championship.
Formula One’s biggest teams Mercedes and Ferrari are questioning some of Liberty’s plans for the sport beyond the expiration of the Concorde Agreement – a deal which binds teams and stakeholders together until the end of 2020.
Disgruntled Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has voiced dissatisfaction with Liberty’s proposed re-distribution of prize money, and the concept of a simpler engine.
Wolff, who has overseen the Lewis Hamilton-led Mercedes’ dominance of F1 for the past four years, supports Ferrari’s stance and did not rule out the prospect of a rebel championship formed by leading teams.
“We are all carrying the torch of a great series and a great brand that was built 40-50 years ago and has tremendous value,” he told a news conference ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
“Everybody is trying to position themselves, but all the time with respect for the series and comments that have been made by the Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne show that he cares,” he added.
“We all have a vision and perspective in Formula One and how we want to see it going forward and it needs to fit that opinion and that is why these statements are being made.”
‘Here’s the deal’
Wolff said the teams owe it to Formula One to get things right and they have at least three more years together before the expiration of the current agreement.
“We just need to give our support in the best possible way to this great sport, regulated by the FIA and owned by Liberty, run by competent men, so we are not devaluing it,” he said.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said it was up to governing body FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) and Liberty Media to come up with a deal and present it to the teams.
“My view on this is very simple. Trying to get a consensus between teams of varying objectives and different set-ups is going to be impossible,” Horner said at a team principals news conference.
“So it’s down to the commercial rights holder and the FIA to get together, come up with a set of regulations, what is the financial framework, what is distribution that they want to have, put it on the table and it’s down to the teams whether they want to sign up to that or not.
“Of course, there will be a lot of positioning, the media will be used. It’s history repeating itself, it happens every five or six years every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.
“But my feeling is that Liberty Media along with the FIA need to get on the same page and say ‘this is what we want it to be, here’s the deal’ and hand it around to the teams.”