Wolff: F1’s political fights felt like ‘business as usual’ in 2022

Formula 1’s political battles through 2022 felt like “business as usual” amid rows over rule changes, cost cap breaches and race control actions, according to Toto Wolff.

Wolff: F1’s political fights felt like ‘business as usual’ in 2022

Mercedes found itself as one of the worst-hit teams by the porpoising issue that impacted most of the grid when the new-design cars for 2022 debuted in February.

The problem escalated to a level that prompted the FIA to intervene on safety grounds and introduce aerodynamic rule changes for 2023, a move some teams – including Red Bull – had rallied against.

A bigger row emerged in October when Red Bull was found to have breached the cost cap in 2021, with some rivals calling for a harsher penalty than the $7 million fine and aerodynamic testing restrictions.

There were also regular debates over the actions of the FIA’s reformed race control, which ultimately ditched its rotation of the race directors.

Asked by Autosport how he found the various political scraps in F1 through 2022, Mercedes F1 boss Wolff felt they had been par for the course as teams worked to protect their positions.

“It’s about protecting your own structure and I think we all do that, trying to stay ahead or to protect, or in a way to understand where the politics go,” said Wolff.

“I think it’s pretty normal. I don’t think there were any more games or less games. Everybody kind of lives to their own standards.

“I think it was pretty much business as usual, I would say.”

The various political tussles in 2022 were a world away from the intensity of the battle between Mercedes and Red Bull seen last year as their respective drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, fought for the world championship.

Mercedes found itself out of the fight at the front of the pack for much of the year as it struggled to get to grips with the overhauled technical regulations, in part due to the porpoising problem.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing

Photo by: Erik Junius

Even when news broke of Red Bull’s cost cap breach, Wolff was not one of the most vocal figures calling for strict action, that role instead falling to Laurent Mekies at Ferrari and Zak Brown at McLaren. 

In the wake of the ruling, Wolff felt that the FIA’s sanction was probably “too much” for Red Bull but “too little” for Mercedes, and focused on the strength of the governance system that would deter teams from future breaches. 

“Beyond the sporting penalty and the financial penalty, which obviously resonates in the real world out there, there is a big reputational consequences,” said Wolff in Mexico.

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“And that is why I believe no team is going to put a foot wrong over the line, because you don't want to have your partners and your team dragged into this space.

“We’re living in a transparent, compliant world. Everything needs governance, and the sport needs it. As a sport overall, this is the real achievement of the whole process.”

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The off-track dramas that added spice to F1 2022
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