No-deal Brexit could be 'mother of all messes' for Formula One
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
No-Deal Bexit would damage Formula One
Barcelona:With only 38 days until Brexit, Toto Wolff, team principal of reigning five-time world champions Mercedes, has predicted that a no-deal scenario could create the “mother of all messes” for Formula One.
Traditionally, the first day of winter testing in Barcelona is a moment of optimism and renewal, but Wolff made no attempt this week to disguise Brexit’s potentially devastating effects upon the sport.
Mercedes F 1 boss Toto Wolff. Photo / Getty Images
Mercedes, like most teams, has its operations spread throughout Europe, with a global headquarters in Stuttgart and two F1 hubs in Northamptonshire, relying upon ease of trading movement to make the system work.
Wolff fears, though, that this could all unravel if the UK leaves the European Union on March 29 without a deal.
“Brexit is a major concern for us, as it should be a major concern for all of us who live in and operate out of the UK,” he said.
“We are F1 teams travelling to and from races 21 times a year. Our people are moving in and out of the country getting parts at the last minute, and any major disruption at borders or with taxes would massively damage the F1 industry in the UK.
"Our team is international, with 26 different nationalities, including many EU citizens, and there is uncertainty at the moment about how it is going to be affected. It is the mother of all messes.”
His concerns were borne out yesterday as Honda, the engine supplier for Red Bull, edged towards the closure of its road-car manufacturing plant in Swindon, with the likely loss of 3,500 jobs.
While Wolff stopped short of suggesting that Mercedes had any contingencies to abandon the UK, he signalled that a crisis was mounting.
“I can very much see that if a no-deal Brexit were to happen, it would have a major impact on us,” he said.
“It is a nightmare scenario that I don’t want even to envisage.”
There were also some daunting signs for Mercedes on the track, as Ferrari stole a march on their arch-rivals by unleashing a prodigiously quick car in the first test at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Sebastian Vettel was almost two seconds per lap faster than his nearest challenger in the morning session, before Carlos Sainz kindled hope for struggling McLaren by closing the gap to just four-tenths of a second.
Surprisingly, Lewis Hamilton was the second slowest of the afternoon runners, although the leading teams are known for their tactical reluctance to show their full hand during testing, a policy known as “sandbagging”.
Still, Wolff predicted that Ferrari, now under the leadership of former technical director Mattia Binotto, would be a more potent adversary than ever.
“I’ve known Mattia for many years and I respect him,” he said. “He is a very intelligent man. He knows how to manoeuvre his way through the paddock and he will be a force to be reckoned with. We feel no sense of entitlement and today shows you why. The Ferrari looks ultra-strong.”
-The Daily Telegraph