Wolff shares doubts over F1 weekend shakeup proposals after fan backlash
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has shared his doubts over plans to cut the Formula One weekend down to just three days from the current four, with the Thursday media day and the existing opening practice on Friday morning abolished, after a wave of negative opinion from fans of the sport.
The proposed cuts, which were first aired during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, come as an effort to reduce costs within Formula One, but Wolff believes the plans now need to be reassessed after they prompted concerns amongst fans.
The proposals will be put under consideration during a meeting of the F1 Commission on Wednesday, before being passed on to the FIA World Motorsport Council, who will meet next week to rubber stamp the plans.
Yet, as Wolff admits, those plans may need to be reconsidered in light of the negative response from fans.
Asked on his thoughts on the current proposals by Sky Sports F1, Wolff replied: “Very ambivalent because it’s quite tricky to discuss where you can save money.
“The discussion came to the Friday and why don’t we come one day later, why don’t we skip free practice one?
“In very few locations you have spectators and we could do a day of media, a day for the promoters, on the Friday and therefore oblige the drivers to do more work on the Friday.
“So the idea came up, let’s not do the Friday and save engine and gearbox miles – it’s about one engine a year, 3,000km on average – and that is, if not millions, it’s at least a million or a million and a half.
“The decision wasn’t really made until now, we need to discuss it in the Commission as well.
“It’s one minor detail of things which were discussed and lots of people are saying ‘this is not the right thing to do’.
“I think we just need to open up the ears and listen and if this is not the right thing to do then let’s stay with the format like we have now.”
While the plan to cut the weekend to just three days of running originally came from the Formula One Strategy Group, a group made up of Mercedes as well as Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Lotus, Wolff has admitted that he himself would like to see the weekend remain in its current format.
“Honestly myself I doubt whether it’s the right thing because Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, this is not a weekend entertainment which starts Saturday morning, it is a proper sport…”
Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS
Dan Paddock is an FIA accredited freelance motorsport and Formula 1 journalist and the Grand Prix Editor of Richland F1. Dan joined the site in July 2013 as a Staff Writer, fresh off the back of completing a master’s degree in journalism. Following a promotion, Dan has since gone on to represent Richland F1 at four grands prix. Aside from Richland F1, Dan also writes for Rumble Strip News, as well as maintaining his own modest blog.