Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff has stressed the importance of not making the sport a “beta test” following the completion of Liberty Media’s takeover earlier this week.
Bernie Ecclestone’s 40-year stint at the helm of F1 came to an end on Monday when he resigned as CEO, making way for Liberty’s Chase Carey to take over the role.
Carey forms one part of a triumvirate that will now run F1, working alongside commercial boss Sean Bratches and sporting chief Ross Brawn.
Reflecting on Ecclestone’s departure, Wolff paid tribute to the 86-year-old before adding that F1 must make the most of its opportunity to change for the better under Liberty.
“When you stay at the top of an organization as long as Bernie did, it is clear that it will be shaped in your image,” Wolff said.
“He had the great ability of always being present. When there was a fire somewhere, even one that he might have ignited, he put it out quickly.
“With the change of ownership, it will now take a new direction. It’s going to be different that it was in the past. Now we have to make the most out of it and grasp the opportunity.”
Wolff nevertheless remains wary about fixing a product that is not broken, saying that making changes without properly assessing their impact could risk alienating fans.
“I think we need to acknowledge that Formula 1 is a technical sport, so it will always polarize,” Wolff said.
“There are people who will say that they hate it and others will say that they love it. This is OK.
“But one thing is for sure: we shouldn’t make it a beta test. We shouldn’t mess with our loyal fans and our audiences by implementing rules and regulations that we haven’t assessed properly.
“We should use data in a scientific approach and see what works in other sports and other entertainment platforms, then combine that with the great strengths and assets of Formula 1.”