I was just thinking the other day about F1 and what we could use more of in the sport…then it hit me…we need MORE Toto Wolff! If Dieter over at Racefans is correct, we may get just that.
According to the report, Toto Wolff’s contract is up at the end of 2020 with Mercedes (he owns 30% of the team). As it happens, F1 boss Chase Carey’s contract ends in 2020 as well and aren’t those planets just lining up quite nicely?
Adding to the change is the looming departure of Mercedes boss and president of the Toto Wolff fan club, Dieter Zetsche at the end of May so changes are afoot at the “Silver Arrows”. Ola Källenius is set to replace him and he’s a huge fan of electric and the brand entering the Formula E series. According to the story, Toto and Ola aren’t besties.
This would naturally prompt one to consider one’s future and while I would have thought F1 might take a long look at Zak Brown for the Carey role, perhaps Toto’s granular knowledge of the series is a positive on his CV. I would argue that Toto may not be as adept at marketing, sponsorships and brand-building as Zak but that’s opinion of course.
Well, that’s it then. Done and dusted. The mustachioed Carey rides off into the sunset in 2020 and Toto moves over avoiding Ola friction at Mercedes and takes the helm of F1. There is that Ross Brawn guy that was ushered out of Mercedes so not sure how well that would work but something tells me Ross would pack it up after getting the new regulations and team contracts signed anyway.
Seems like a tidy article and nice roadmap for F1’s future as well as Toto’s. Except for one thing. IF you hop over to this Forbes article, we’re reminded that Ferrari may be the lynchpin in the entire scheme. You know, Ferrari. The team who is the fiercest rival to Mercedes.
The complexity is that Ferrari has a seat at the table in F1’s parent company as chief executive Louis Camilleri is on the board. The article reminds us that back when F1 was getting ready for a flotation on the market several years ago, it was revealed that Ferrari had several perks and one of those perks was this gem:
“will have the right to sit on the Audit and Ethics and Nomination Committees and any standing or ad hoc committees of the Company established to monitor the strategic development of the Group’s business. The Longest Standing Team’s Team Director will also have influence in relation to the removal or appointment of the Group’s chief executive by virtue of him being a member of the Nomination Committee.”
I remember reading this back then and Forbes is right in reminding us of these stipulations and how Ferrari fit into the F1 power base. What I am not sure of is if Liberty Media made any changes to any of these Ferrari perks when they bought the series or since buying the series.
If they didn’t, and all the stipulations still remain, there is this gem:
“The flotation prospectus reveals that under this contract F1 “must obtain the written consent of Ferrari prior to the appointment of any person as our chief executive officer if within the past five years, he or she has held a senior executive office or an ownership interest of 5% or more in any Team or automobile manufacturer which either owns more than a 5% interest in a Team or is a supplier of engines to a Team.”
As the Forbes article points out, this last stipulation was part of the original Concorde Agreement which expired in 2012 but there was a continuance of that contract signed individually by each team in bipartite fashion (if memory serves correctly). Forbes is right, this stipulation could very much be in full effect. That depends on what Liberty Media changed, if anything, during the acquisition.
It should make for interesting quibble for sure. I am curious how the paddock would feel about Toto F1 and how his ties to Merc might be viewed by not only the teams but with Toto himself. It is the team he built and the bias would be hard to shake.