Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

“Nightmare” Brexit could hand Ferrari an advantage – Wolff

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has described the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal as a “nightmare scenario” and warned it could play into the hands of rivals Ferrari.

Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of March. However the British parliament is running out of time to agree the terms of ‘Brexit’ before then.

Wolff said Mercedes’ F1 team has been working with the company’s road car operation in the UK to prepare for possible disruptions owing to Brexit.

“We are looking at the various scenarios with Mercedes-Benz UK because it not only impacts Formula 1 but it impacts also the mother brand in terms of getting cars and parts in and out of the country,” said Wolff.

“But I can see very much if a ‘no deal’ Brexit would happen like [has] been discussed I think we would have a major impact in terms of our operation going to the races and getting our cars developed and ready. So that is a nightmare scenario that I don’t want to even envisage.”

The majority of F1 teams are based in the UK but Mercedes’ chief rival Ferrari is not. “Ferrari in Italy, Sauber [now Alfa Romeo] in Switzerland, they would have a massive advantage over every UK-based team,” added Wolff.

The British government has been debating the terms of Brexit since June 2016. When asked by RaceFans, Wolff denied teams had been short-sighted by failing to prepare for the possible consequences sooner.

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“We are racing team operators and not politicians and and as a racing team operators and businessmen you will always think that rational thinking is going to prevail and eventually protect the industry or protect the British economy,” said Wolff.

“I think that what we’re seeing at least Formula 1 feels like [we’re] very much exposed to the decisions that could be made on a political level. And it is a risk for our people and their risk for the industry.”

Mercedes’ UK-based F1 team employs people from 26 different nationalities, said Wolff. A key issue at stake in the debate over the terms of Brexit is the ease with which EU nationals will be able to pass in and out of the UK.

Wolff warned the consequences for Britain’s F1 industry could be serious if a ‘no-deal’ Brexit deal goes ahead.

“Brexit is a major concern for us and should be a major concern for all of us that live in the UK and operate out of the UK,” said Wolff. “We are Formula 1 teams that travel to races and tests at least 21 times a year. We are moving in and out of the UK, our people move in and out of the UK, the way we are getting parts and services is just-in-time at the last minute into the UK and any major disruption in borders or with taxes would massively damage the Formula One industry in the UK.

“Our team is an international team. We are German car brand that has its own Formula 1 operations in the United Kingdom we have many different nationalities.

“And there is uncertainty at the moment of whether the industry is going to be impacted by a no-deal Brexit or a Brexit that is that is damaging to what for me is one of the the the outstanding industries in the United Kingdom. And we’ve said that before. The mother of all messes.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 67 comments on ““Nightmare” Brexit could hand Ferrari an advantage – Wolff”

    1. Arent Toro rosso based in italy as well?

      1. Yeah, but they are 1) not likely Mercedes’ main competitor (well, unless things go really wrong!), and 2) will be impacted if Red Bull is, bc. a lot of work for them comes (esp. since they and Red Bull now use the same backend) from Red Bull Technology in the UK, as well as Honda having their European base in the UK.

        Though Sauber might be more interesting, since they are based in Switzerland, ie. they already know how to deal with border stuff, and they are working mostly with Ferrari for things they don’t do themselves. If they are as fast as they have been at times near the end of the season, maybe they will be a Merc. competitor!

      2. Yes but since they got a lot of parts from Red Bull Technologies they can be impacted almost as much as all the UK-based teams.

        1. I wonder if red bull may end up utilising some of Toro Rosso’s factory resources if possible, under a worst case scenario brexit as its based in Italy it could be a benefit. not sure if it would be possible under the regulations or if their infrastructure would be up to standard.

    2. It will weaken Mercedes? Sweet, another reason for it happen soon.

      1. But Ferrari is already the one spending the most money. This would allow them to spend even more relative to Mercedes, and possibly lose again.

        1. Pound Sterling has always been stronger than Euro in the past and EU is quite young compared to F1. I never heard about inequities in the sport before and I’m a bit tired of Wolff BS.

      2. Yeah, if it weakens Mercedes, it will likely also hinder Red Bull @jblank; in addition to what @gufdamm is saying, that’s not really great.

        Now, you might be anti-Mercedes, and/or a strict Ferrari fan, but otherwise, no, that’s not great. Don’t you want a good fight for the championship, between as many drivers and teams, for as long as possible?

        I sure do. So I hope the good start by Vettel this morning is genuine, and hope that Merc. will be there too, and Honda/Red Bull continue doing lots of laps and looking like they again built a great chassis, with not too big gaps behind them (yeah, hope).

        I don’t like many of the leads at Red Bull, despite admiring a lot the team do and have doubts about Vettel and Ferrari, so personally I wouldn’t mind a Merc/HAM win at the end of it, but if we get a full-season, multi-team fight, I will probably be happy regardless of who wins in the end, as I think will most F1 fans. For that to be cut short by something as stupid as brexit would be really annoying though, even if it would be it’s own bitter satisfaction “HAM/Horner: it’s a shame UK politics gave Ferrari the win” (The Darkest Hour?).

        1. I’m all for fair competition @bosyber, and quite frankly, Ferrari doesn’t deserve anymore advantages.

        2. I just want more parity and to not have Lewis Hamilton hoisting the winners trophy 65% of the races.

          1. In 2018 Mercedes won just one more race than the competition, and if not for Ocon it would have been less.

            1. Right but Hamilton wins too much. I lose interest in his wins because they’re typically boring blowouts.

            2. COLLEEN HORSFORD
              18th February 2019, 18:11

              Please recheck your stats – Vettel won 5 races and Hamilton won 11 races in 2018.

      3. It will weaken Mercedes? Sweet, another reason for it happen soon.

        Another? You’re not trying to suggest there are other reasons for it to happen?

        1. Absolutely. It should dissolve and sovereignty for each nation should return.

          1. Ah sovereignty! I’m not sure you even know what that means. Even the governments own Brexit white paper states that we have remained sovereign:

            Parliament has “remained sovereign throughout our membership to the EU” despite people “not always feeling like that”

            Wanna try again? :)

            1. Duncan Snowden
              19th February 2019, 0:51

              “Although public concern is not over technical sovereignty itself but over more generally national traditions it is real and important and can be evoked by reference to sovereignty.”

              “[T]he impact of entry on sovereignty is closely related to the blurring of distinctions between domestic political and foreign affairs, to the relatively greater responsibility of the bureaucracy of the Community and the lack of effective democratic control.”

              Foreign and Commonwealth Office briefing 30/1048, June 1971. My emphasis.

            2. Duncan

              Although public concern is not over technical sovereignty itself but over more generally national traditions it is real and important and can be evoked by reference to sovereignty.

              Exactly, people just “feel” stuff and are ignorant of the facts. As Brexit shows this makes for a a terrible voting strategy.

            3. You said nothing about the second quote about the actualy impact on technical sovereignty. Duly noted.

            4. Ahem

              Parliament has “remained sovereign throughout our membership to the EU” despite people “not always feeling like that”

      4. @jblank, if it is as bad as Wolff suggests, this isn’t just going to hurt Mercedes, this is something that could cause considerable damage to the whole of the grid and the wider UK motorsport industry as a whole.

        Teams like Racing Point, Haas or Williams are highly dependent on those same supply chains that Wolff refers to – do you not think that this is not going to damage other teams as well? Or do you not care about the damage that it could cause because it’s not your livelihood that is being ruined?

        1. Or do you not care about the damage that it could cause because it’s not your livelihood that is being ruined

          This. Brexit is after all an entirely selfish affair.

          1. Martin, it’s even more disturbing when you hear that some of those who made major donations to the Leave campaign are now known to be betting on a major devaluation of sterling occurring.

            It means there are many Brexiteers who actively want a chaotic Brexit that causes as much damage as possible to the British economy – because a Brexit that destroys the British economy and makes sterling collapse in value is much more profitable for them than an orderly Brexit that sees the UK economy working as normal.

            1. Yeah frankly it’s disgusting. Though now I am basically following suit, moving as much as I can out of Sterling to protect against what looks like the likely collapse come April.

        2. It is, but if everyone was getting the same effect, then there would be parity. However, two teams are not, and one of them is Mercedes’ biggest rival in what is effectively a two-team championship.

    3. If majority of F1 industries are in Britain, shouldn’t the teams located in EU be the one who in disadvantaged?

      1. Ferrari doesn’t depend on stuff happening in the uk, apart from the GP itself, similar for Sauber I guess. The UK guys need to be able to do the ‘European’ season, which will be starting not too long after brexit.

      2. @ruliemaulana

        If majority of F1 industries are in Britain, shouldn’t the teams located in EU be the one who in disadvantaged?

        It’s mostly the companies at the receiving end of the supply chain that are located in the UK. But they used to rely heavily on imports of supplier parts from all over the EU. Barring a sensational breakthrough in the next few weeks, these parts will become a lot more expensive, will be harder to come by, and their shipment will suffer unpredictable delays. And no, Britain’s industry was never ready to step in at short notice, and won’t for the next few years. A trade agreement with the EU is desperately needed, or having a team base in the UK is going to be a liability.

        1. If the UK operations are only for assembling, then it would not be so hard to relocate. Also for the international group of people and their computers. Especially when some teams already have (large) operations in the EU…

        2. @nase:

          these parts will become a lot more expensive, will be harder to come by, and their shipment will suffer unpredictable delays.

          On the brighter side, if this happens, then the cost/budget cap will be agreed upon and implemented in no time thus paving the way towards parity and an even/fair contest among the teams.

          1. Unlikely, since it would simply restrict what the UK-based teams could do even further.

      3. Part of the answer is in the report:

        Mercedes’ UK-based F1 team employs people from 26 different nationalities, said Wolff. A key issue at stake in the debate over the terms of Brexit is the ease with which EU nationals will be able to pass in and out of the UK.

    4. Toto is getting more annoying by the day

      1. He’s actually right this time. For once.

      2. I, for one, am very happy that someone with the profile to change opinions is voicing his, @johnmilk.

        1. @shimks it is all just empty words, if they feel that in fact will have an impact they will relocate to Germany, they already have part of their operations there and departing from DTM I imagine they have plenty of space to accommodate the F1 program. It is just another Toto “we are not that good, the others have an advantage, bla bla bla” nonsense

          Also the brexit will have an impact in the access to the single market, they aren’t selling any goods. Sure a bit more bureaucracy leaving and entering the UK, but it was already different from any other EU country as the United Kingdom does not belong to the Schengen space. I highly doubt will have an impact on their performance.

          Toto being Toto

          1. Also the brexit will have an impact in the access to the single market, they aren’t selling any goods. Sure a bit more bureaucracy leaving and entering the UK

            You are in no position to argue with Toto when your entire understanding of Brexit is so pitiful and simplistic.

            Sure a bit more bureaucracy

            Sure, and the Titanic got a bit damp.

            1. That is what he is complaining about though.

              If he were to tell us that he is concerned about prices of raw materials or services that come from mainland Europe that would be different. But he isn’t and it also applies both ways as I’m sure it goes both ways for the teams outside the UK.

              You could also elucidate me better. That I’m pitiful and simplistic I already know

            2. That I’m pitiful and simplistic I already know

              I didn’t say that though did I? Always an obvious sign of a weak arguing position when you have to resort to outright lies!

              If he were to tell us that he is concerned about prices of raw materials or services that come from mainland Europe that would be different. But he isn’t

              Really? You are seriously suggesting Wolff is only talking about people travelling to and from the UK? Lets count all the ways you are wrong … from this very page:

              We are looking at the various scenarios with Mercedes-Benz UK because it not only impacts Formula 1 but it impacts also the mother brand in terms of getting cars and parts in and out of the country

              DING!

              But I can see very much if a ‘no deal’ Brexit would happen like [has] been discussed I think we would have a major impact in terms of our operation going to the races and getting our cars developed and ready

              DING!

              And it is a risk for our people and their risk for the industry

              DING!

              the way we are getting parts and services is just-in-time at the last minute into the UK and any major disruption in borders or with taxes would massively damage the Formula One industry in the UK

              DING!

              And there is uncertainty at the moment of whether the industry is going to be impacted by a no-deal Brexit or a Brexit that is that is damaging to what for me is one of the the the outstanding industries in the United Kingdom

              DING!

            3. Uh so edgy with the DINGs

              I am simplistic and pitiful though.
              And yes, F1 wise it won’t matter, don’t worry, Ferrari won’t have an advantage.

            4. Uh so edgy with the DINGs

              While ding is indeed a 4 letter word I think you are confusing it with that actually edgy 4 letter words. Happy to know you have realised how wrong your earlier comment was and that you now agree with me! Progress!

              I am simplistic and pitiful though

              Well you would know best right? *shrug* no one else here is saying that though.

              And yes, F1 wise it won’t matter, don’t worry.

              You have literally no evidence of this though right? And given your previous history of being completely wrong (even just on this page) I’m going to have to take this with an awful lot of salt.

            5. You seem like a very angry man.

            6. You seem like a very angry man.

              And you seem like an extremely unperceptive man *shrugs*

            7. How can I be wrong if I never tried to say anything right?

            8. How can I be wrong if I never tried to say anything right?

              I assume not trying to be right was your first mistake. Remember if you try you might succeed!

            9. better stay away from trying then, uff

    5. @johnmilk – “getting”? Seriously, mate? I thought he hit peak annoyance a while ago, and I was actually relieved that this time he’s thought up a new excuse as to why Merc are under threat due to everyone (including Williams) nipping at their heels. At least this one is reasonable, and might benefit their actual F1 rival. :)

      1. I thought he hit peak annoyance a while ago

        a box full os surprises @phylyp

    6. “But I can see very much if a ‘no deal’ Brexit would happen like [has] been discussed I think we would have a major impact in terms of our operation going to the races and getting our cars developed and ready. So that is a nightmare scenario that I don’t want to even envisage.”

      And here I thought if anyone would be prepared it would be major F1 teams. “I don’t want to even envisage” sounds a lot like the voluntary ignorance of politicians, not like a professional preparing for what is now the most likely outcome.
      Though part of me suspects it might just be a bluff while they have thoroughly planned since at least 18 months.

      1. Companies with 100,000s of employees don’t even know what’s going to happen or just how disruptive no deal will actually be. It seems the very government organising it don’t know this either. An F1 team is pretty small fry.

        1. 100.000 employees are difficult to relocate, especially when employees are likely more loyal to the place they live than their job. 500 to 1000 employees from all over the world, many of them having travel as part of their regular job, I expected them to have a backup-plan with a location inside the EU ready. Especially Merc, with that huge EU-corp in the background.

          1. @crammond You’d expect them to set up an entire F1 factory in another country just in case there is no-deal? What happens if they strike a deal at the last minute!?

    7. Well done Toto! I remember when decimalisation was blamed for everything, then it was the millennium and now its Brexit.

      You may not have noticed but Italy has a few problems of its own, which may cause the breakup of the euro currency zone.

      France is doing what it does so well, striking and rioting.
      So Brexit has some competition in the disruption stakes.

      1. Given that Brexit is already having effects on both of the nations you describe, attempting to separate the nationalistic breakouts from each other is probably not a wise idea.

    8. Full English Brexit please

    9. Brexit is the most embarrassing product of Britain since Bernie’s goatee…

      1. I believe Brexit came first

        1. Brexit hasn’t been delivered yet. But we’re doing a great job of embarrassing ourselves.

      2. Eddie Jordan’s wig?

      3. The only thing keeping us from being the laughing stock of the world is Trump.

      4. Brexit is the most embarrassing product of Britain since Bernie’s goatee…

        Good Lord, I’ve forgotten that one!

    10. Johns from USA
      19th February 2019, 5:14

      Come on in, the water is fine

    11. From USA:
      Come on in, the water is fine.

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