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Formula 1

Mercedes won’t sign Concorde yet, hits out at its treatment

by Matt Beer
4 min read

As the August 12 signing deadline approaches for Formula 1’s new Concorde Agreement – which will define the terms under which the teams commit to F1 for the following five years – Toto Wolff has given his clearest indication yet that Mercedes is unwilling to sign under the terms on offer.

This puts the team out on a limb, with Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams all on record as saying they are ready to sign.

The general outline of an agreement – which is understood to have been in place since the latter half of last year – features a considerable redistribution of income between the teams, with a realignment from the bigger teams to the smaller ones, but which still recognises Ferrari’s unique global profile.

Wolff accepts the redistribution to the smaller teams but is clearly unhappy that Mercedes’ own standing relative to Ferrari is not being recognised.

“In those negotiations we weren’t treated in the way we should have been” :: Toto Wolff

“The Concorde Agreement is a complex topic,” stated Wolff at Silverstone today. “It obviously involves 10 teams, the FIA and FOM. And we respect that everybody has their point of view, and their own interest at heart.

“We from Mercedes made it very clear that we are happy with a more equitable split of the prize fund. The way success is rewarded and possible for everybody, we agreed to.

“We are, I would say, the biggest victim in terms of prize fund loss in all of that. Ferrari has maintained an advantageous position. With Red Bull it obviously balances out with AlphaTauri. So it is us that are hurt the most.

“I feel that Mercedes has contributed to the sport over the last years. We have, apart from being competitive on track, the driver that has clearly the most global appeal, and I’ve seen in those negotiations we weren’t treated in the way we should have been. Therefore there is a bunch of open topics for us, that are legal, commercial and sporting.

“And in our point of view, I don’t feel ready to sign a Concorde Agreement.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Race Day Budapest, Hungary

Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto, McLaren’s Zak Brown and Williams’ Claire Williams all reiterated today that they are ready to sign.

“Yes we are ready,” said Binotto. “There is some very little wording that needs to be addressed but in general principles we are happy. We have a good understanding with Chase [Carey] and we understand the priority to helping the smaller teams whilst our role as Ferrari has been recognised.”

“We’re in same position as Ferrari,” said Brown.

“We’re ready to sign, we can hit the August 12 deadline. All the fundamentals are there. I’m really excited at the agreement. It will bring a much healthier, more competitive sport and the biggest winners will be the fans and the sport itself.”

“You have the three most historic teams in F1 ready to sign,” said Williams in reference to the fact that Ferrari, McLaren and Williams are the three longest-standing teams with continuous F1 history.

Interestingly, this is the first time that Wolff has specifically referenced the global reach of the team’s driver Lewis Hamilton as part of the justification for the enhanced profile Mercedes lends F1. This comes as terms between the team and Hamilton beyond this season have yet to be decided.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship 70th Anniversary Grand Prix Practice Day Silverstone, England

In Hungary three weeks ago, Wolff expressed his irritation with how other teams were commenting publicly about the negotiations.

“I don’t know why some of the other teams made those ridiculous commentaries that they’re ready to sign and there seems to be some competitors that are not. They make themselves a laughing stock with those comments in the public.

“Negotiations should be taking place behind closed doors without a running commentary from competitors and in that respect, we are talking to Liberty, we are keen in staying in F1, there are some clauses which bother us a little bit but nothing that can’t be solved.”

Asked today how quickly he thought the situation could be resolved, Wolff replied: “That depends on the other side. If you’re willing to sit on the table, address the critical topics, discuss them, come to maybe a compromised outcome, then I think it can go pretty fast. But I haven’t seen that approach.”

Liberty swiftly responded with, “Formula 1 has engaged with all teams in a collaborative and constructive way and listened to all their views. This agreement is important for the future of the sport and all our fans. We are moving forward with this and will not be delayed any longer.”

All of which lays out in public the positions of each side just days away from the deadline.

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