Year 2020 might be the "2006 of Ferrari" to Mercedes. With Zetsche set to retire, If Wolff choose to move out of Mercedes and take up F1 CEO role, then most likely Lewis is not going to continue as well.
Liberty could offer Carey’s F1 CEO role to Mercedes’ Wolff after 2020
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff could succeed Chase Carey as Formula 1 Group CEO once his contract with Mercedes expires at the end of 2020.
RaceFans understands that Wolff’s shareholding in the team – he holds 30 per cent and Niki Lauda 10 per cent, with Mercedes owner Daimler holding the balance – is subject to a ‘pull’ option, enabling the German manufacturer to acquire their combined 40 per cent according to predetermined valuations.
Numerous high-level sources have told RaceFans that Wolff “is considering his future”. The team’s recent run of championship success could be jeopardised by new regulations and budget controls from 2021, and the fact Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche is due to step down at the end of May is also said to be an influential factor.
Zetsche will be succeeded by Ola Källenius, currently head of group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development. In that role he pushed a new electric model initiative under the product and technology brand EQ, and is said to have been a strong advocate for the brand’s entry into Formula E in 2020.
According to Mercedes insiders Källenius and Wolff have an uneasy relationship, which is likely to be another factor in Wolff’s considerations.
When this scenario was put to him in Baku, Wolff did not deny that his contract expires at the end of 2020 and admitted that he is considering his future, but would not comment further save to state that he and Källenius are on good terms.
According to Liberty insiders 65-year-old Carey, currently CEO and Chairman of Liberty Media, will step down from his CEO role after 2020, but will retain the chairman position – thus creating an executive position for Wolff, who is said to be highly rated by Liberty’s board.
Carey is believed to be on a three-year contract, which expires at the end of 2019, but agreed to extend it by 12 months in line with plans for F1’s new covenants and regulations to kick in for 2021.
Keeping Carey, who is highly rated in stock exchange circles, in the chairman role would enable a smooth transition while ensuring that the NASDAQ-listed company maintains strong relations with investors. Where this would leave Liberty’s Managing Director Ross Brawn, who was ousted as boss of the Mercedes F1 team by Wolff in 2014, is unclear.
A Formula 1 spokesperson declined to comment when approached by RaceFans.