‘Don’t provoke Sergio Marchionne,’ says Mercedes AMG F1 Boss
Toto Wolff, executive director of the Mercedes AMG Formula One team, has warned the sport’s other bosses not to provoke Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne, who has threatened several times in recent years to shut down the Grand Prix team.
Because of Ferrari’s long and unbroken relationship with F1, most have taken these as empty threats, as scaremongering tactics to sway the FIA in helping the Italian team. Wolff, however, says Marchionne’s words should not be taken lightly.
“Don’t provoke Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “I think that F1 needs Ferrari more than Ferrari needs F1. And he has an understanding and a vision of what the DNA in F1 needs to represent for Ferrari, and as he is a no nonsense guy. If he doesn’t see the value for his brand he is going to call it a day. Very easy. With no regret. So, you better not mess with him.”
Wolff’s comments come shortly after, and may be in response to, FIA President Jean Todt’s suggestion that Ferrari should lose its longstanding veto power over rule changes and that he would not take issue with Ferrari leaving F1 as a result.
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“The veto was at the time of Enzo Ferrari, and he was isolated in Maranello,” Todt, who was formerly the team principal for the Scuderia, explained. “That was the only team supplying engine and chassis against some other teams that were all powered by Ford.”
“So at this time, it was decided that being away from what is called the silicon valley of motorsport, they needed to have a protection. That is the story about the veto. But personally, I feel now I am not in favor of that. Times have changed.”
Ferrari, however, has rarely used its veto power, and though the team is Mercedes’ biggest rival on the track, Wolff nonetheless has a lot to gain from its sticking around. Last year, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone implied that Mercedes gave Ferrari help with its 2017 engine because the Silver Arrows team looks better beating a strong Ferrari than dominating the grid.
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