F1 breakaway championship is a realistic possibility, says Toto Wolff

March 20 2018 , 9:02 pm

A breakaway championship to rival Formula One has gathered further momentum after Mercedes’s executive director, Toto Wolff, warned that it is a “realistic” possibility and “could happen”.

Wolff is the sport’s first team principal to reveal that a rebel series could be on the cards with the new season only days away.

Bernie Ecclestone, who governed Formula One for four decades, claimed last month that the disgruntled Ferrari chairman, Sergio Marchionne, had already held talks over a rival championship.

Ferrari are disappointed with Liberty Media’s vision for the sport beyond the expiration of the Concorde Agreement – a deal which binds the teams and stakeholders together until the end of 2020 – with Marchionne warning on a number of occasions that his famous Italian team will quit if F1’s American owners do not revise their future plans.

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,” said Wolff.

“Marchionne has a clear vision of what Formula One should represent for Ferrari, which is a purist sport that isn’t a shopping channel. I would strongly encourage all of the sport’s stakeholders not to try and provoke him.

“I agree with most of the things Sergio says because Formula One has a certain DNA and it is a sport that needs to stick to its roots. So, don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne. Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.

“I will give it everything to align the vision among us by seeking consensus and accepting compromise.”

The new season starts in Melbourne on Sunday and Wolff’s Mercedes team will start as the favourites to win a record-equalling fifth constructors’ championship following a strong showing in pre-season testing.

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