Wolff baffled by level of 'manipulation and opportunism' in F1

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the past six months have produced the most "political times" he has ever experienced since his entry into the sport as a shareholder of Williams in 2009.

Talks over the future of Grand Prix racing between commercial right holder Liberty Media, the FIA and the teams have unfolded over a lengthy period that started almost two years ago.

A new regulation framework was defined during that time as well as new commercial agreements, but debates heated up at the start of the year as the fine print of the sport's future rulebook and governance was worked out.

But the onslaught of the coronavirus unsettled the sport's state of affairs, forcing F1's management and teams to return to the table to elucidate how to navigate the uncharted waters in which the community has unexpectedly found itself.

The prospect of smaller teams sinking into the financial abyss created by the crisis prompted calls for a reduction of next year's budget cap, with the threshold cut from $175m to $145m for 2021.

Most midfield teams called for more while the top-3 outfits argued for less, a gap that sowed discord among the ranks.

Oddly, Mercedes hasn't been vocal on the subject, but in an interview with ESPN, Wolff opened up on events that have unfolded in the wings recently and how they have been exploited by some of his colleagues.

"I've been in the sport since 2009 with Williams and I've never seen so much opportunism and manipulation," he says.

"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."

Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director with Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director.

For Wolff, Formula 1's hiatus can't end soon enough, if only to compel everyone to focus their attention on the job at hand rather than on deceitful politics.

"First of all, in a sense it was good because I didn't need to interact with certain people," he adds.

"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 bullshit stops. And the bullshit is going to stop soon and then all these interviews and all these opinions become irrelevant."

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