Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the last six months have been the most political he has known in Formula 1, and accused some involved in the sport of manipulation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent the sport into an extended period of mandatory shutdown to lower costs at a time when teams have little income, while new technical regulations have been pushed back to 2022 and a number of components will be frozen for next season. The planned budget cap has been lowered from $175 million to $145m, and Wolff says he has not been impressed with the way some people have tried to take advantage of the situation.
“I’ve been in the sport since 2009 with Williams and I’ve never seen so much opportunism and manipulation,” Wolff told ESPN. “There are sides of the sport that I question and, at times, the sport itself became background music and not the main act anymore.
“I’ve learned a lot about various people and, as much as I know that this is a highly political environment and everybody tries to gain a benefit, I would say that these past six months were the most political times in Formula 1 that I have been part of.”
While the smaller teams have been arguing they need a lower budget cap to survive in F1, the bigger teams are concerned about having to make mass redundancies in order to comply. With final decisions still yet to be taken and ratified by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, a number of team principals have been vocal in the media, something Wolff hasn’t always taken well.
“First of all, in a sense it was good because I didn’t need to interact with certain people. On the other side, you could clearly see that there were people that felt the need to communicate over the media.
“But at the end, you know, all that is irrelevant. Why we love the sport is because it all comes down to performance. Once the flag drops, the bulls**t stops. And the bulls**t is going to stop soon and then all these interviews and all these opinions become irrelevant.”