Toto Wolff has warned Liberty Media to stop "provoking" Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne. In recent days, Marchionne doubled down on his threat to pull Ferrari out of the sport, accusing F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn of "behaving like Moses".
A major source of tension between Brawn and Marchionne is over the proposed 2021 engine rules, and Mercedes boss Wolff is siding with Ferrari. "We currently have a powertrain that is the most powerful and efficient racing engine ever," he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper. "With new engine regulations there are possibilities to optimise this. But to develop a new engine that does not meet the high tech aspects of electrification, efficiency and power - that is, some archaic engine - is not what we want."
So asked if Marchionne's quit threat makes him "afraid", Wolff answered: "I'm not afraid, but Marchionne is to be taken seriously. I'm relaxed, because Ferrari is formula one, and formula one is Ferrari," he added. "But if I were Liberty Media's new formula one promoter, I would not continue provoking Marchionne with unacceptable suggestions or demands or nonsensical changes."
Asked what he means, Wolff explained: "Bringing rules or show elements into the game and turning F1 into a cheap shopping channel. Formula one must remain in its basic structures what it was and what it is. We have to improve them and face the new media environment. But we need evolution, not naive revolution," he insisted.
Wolff said F1 is currently missing the guiding hand of its former supremo Bernie Ecclestone. "I wish that, three or four years ago, he would have known better and taken another role without losing it altogether," said the Mercedes team boss. "A role that helps to build a new era in formula one. That he did not do that - with his experience and his enthusiasm and as a racer and a businessman - is the only criticism I have of him." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing