Merc boss: Money a big sticking point

Date published: December 20 2017

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that the distribution of prize money is the “elephant in the room” when it comes to Formula 1’s 2020/2021 commercial contracts.

The last deal brokered by Bernie Ecclestone on behalf of previous owners CVC Capital will expire in 2020 and new owners Liberty Media has already started negotiations with teams over a new contract.

However, initial discussions have not gone down well and Ferrari have threatened to pull out of F1 as they are not happy with the direction in which Liberty Media is taking the sport.

There have been talks about possible budget caps and Wolff says they are not against it, but warns Mercedes have their concerns over future distribution of prize funds.

“Well that’s the elephant in the room,” he told ESPN. “That’s the most important topic after 2020. It is clear that we need to find a structure that works for everybody. Some of the smaller teams struggle on the income side.

“We are not against a cost cap as long as it can be policed in the right way and it has a sensible system [of introduction]. We are not going to cut our workforce by 30 percent from one year to another and we are not going to give up a performance advantage that we have lightly, so there needs to be something on the other side.

“These discussions have just started in a friendly way, and again here we acknowledge that we might have different opinions. But at the end, for the sake of Formula One, we will find the right solutions.”

Wolff insists Mercedes “are in here to stay”, but admits he agrees in principle with Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne’s concerns.

Ferrari have threatened to pull out of F1 as they are not happy with the direction in which new owners Liberty Media is taking the sport.

Marchionne warned sceptics on Monday that “they are playing with fire” if they think Ferrari’s withdrawal threats are a bluff.

“Sergio is pretty outspoken and straight, and he comes to the point. He says that he wouldn’t accept certain things and it’s his way of dealing with things – and in principle I share his opinion,” he said.

“I have said it in Abu Dhabi that we love Formula One, we are in here to stay but it needs to have the right framework – governance framework, regulatory framework, it needs to be managed in the right way and we will voice our opinion if we think things are not going in the right direction.”