Belfast Telegraph

Ferrari may well split from F1 and start breakaway series, says Wolff

 

By Philip Duncan

A breakaway Championship to rival Formula One has gathered further momentum after Mercedes boss Toto Wolff warned that it is a "realistic" possibility and "could happen".

Wolff, the executive director for Mercedes, is the first team principal to reveal that a rebel series could be on the cards.

Bernie Ecclestone, who governed F1 for four decades, claimed last month that disgruntled Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne had already staged talks over a rival Championship.

Ferrari are disappointed with Liberty Media's vision for the sport beyond the Concorde Agreement - a deal which binds the teams and stakeholders together until the end of 2020 - with Marchionne warning that his team will quit if F1's American owners do not revise plans.

Ferrari are unhappy with the proposed re-distribution of prize money and the concept of a simpler engine. And, while Wolff stressed that he was keen for the major players to work together and seek consensus, the Austrian could not rule out the prospect of a breakaway Championship.

"The perspective of doing something else is realistic, and could happen if we don't align our vision," said Wolff.

"Marchionne has a vision of what F1 should represent for Ferrari, a purist sport. I agree with most of the things he says because F1 needs to stick to its roots.

"F1 needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs F1. I will give it everything to align the vision among us by seeking consensus."

The new campaign gets under way in Melbourne on Sunday and leading the charge for Wolff's Mercedes will be Lewis Hamilton, who could soon sign a new £40m-a-year deal until at least the end of 2020.

The 33-year-old Englishman is also bidding to become only the third driver in F1 history to win the title more than four times.

"Lewis came back strong and in a good frame of mind," Wolff added. "The signs are positive."

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