Former racing driver, Toto Wolff, has warned of the ‘mother of all messes’ that could be caused in Formula 1 if a no-deal Brexit were to occur.
The austrian driver emphasised that the sport is reliant on the free movement agreement between EU states, and a no-deal Brexit will put an end to that. Seven of the ten F1 teams are based in the UK, of which the majority are set to compete in the nine European races this season.
Wolff warned that if negotiations were to fail between the UK and the European Union (EU), the industry would suffer significantly. Free movement means that equipment and materials can be moved across borders with ease, which is fundamental for competing across the continent.
Addressing reporters on the opening day of pre-season testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, Wolff stated: “Any major disruption with borders or taxes would damage the F1 industry in the UK.
“Our team is an international team, including many EU citizens, and there is uncertainty at whether the industry will be impacted by a no-deal Brexit or a Brexit. That is damaging to what is to me one of the outstanding industries in the UK. It is the mother of all messes.”
According to the Mercedes principal, the upheaval caused by Brexit would significantly hinder Mercedes’ ability to compete against teams based in the EU. He pointed out that EU teams would have the upper hand: “Everybody at Ferrari, Toro Rosso [both based in Italy] and also Alfa Romeo in Switzerland will have a massive advantage over every UK-based team.”
Wolff’s warning echoes the views expressed by McLaren Chief Executive Jonathan Neale in November. Neale emphasised: “The key issues will be border efficiency for both parts and people and administrative costs.
“McLaren F1 takes 40 tons and 100 people and we pop up at an event every two weeks around the globe in 20 countries and five continents, through a variety of customs borders, to put the show on the road. Currently there are well-trodden paths in how we manage customs and borders in order to move seamlessly.”
Insider Insight: The potential for a no-deal Brexit is causing unease across a number of industries in both the UK and EU. With a sport so dependent on the free movement of people and equipment, this could be potentially very damaging.