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A breakaway F1 series? 'It could happen,' warns Toto Wolff

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff won't rule out the prospect of a breakaway series if Formula 1's future regulations are at odds with the manufacturers' interests.

We've been here before, when veiled threats and perils put Grand Prix racing's future in jeopardy only for cooler heads and common sense to ultimately prevail.

Wolff however joins another heavy-weight in warning of the consequences of Liberty Media imposing its vision of the sport: Ferrari's Sergio Marchionne.

A draft new engine regulation platform which was tabled last year by Formula 1's managers received mixed reactions from teams, but Marchionne clearly opposed the blue print.

The proposal, concocted by F1 sporting manager Ross Brawn, included plans to reduce costs to encourage independent engine manufacturers to join the fray from2021.

The approach also centered around the introduction of standardized parts, something the Ferrari chairman vehemently decried by threatening to quit F1 altogether if the provision - a mockery of F1's DNA according to Marchionne - ever came to pass.

“Marchionne has a clear vision of what Formula 1 should represent for Ferrari, which is a purist sport that isn’t a shopping channel," said Wolff.

"I would strongly encourage all of the sport’s stakeholders not to try and provoke him.

"I agree with most of the things Sergio says because Formula 1 has a certain DNA and it is a sport that needs to stick to its roots," adds the Mercedes boss.

"So, don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne. Formula 1 needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula 1.

"I will give it everything to align the vision among us by seeking consensus and accepting compromise."

Wolff offers perhaps a more conciliatory tone than his Ferrari counterpart, yet the Mercedes boss won't dismiss the drastic prospect of a breakaway championship.

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"The perspective of doing something else is a realistic one, and it could happen if we don’t achieve to align our vision," said the Austrian.

Wolff insists the German manufacturer will be racing beyond 2020, when F1 enters its new era.

Indeed, Mercedes has committed to Formula E from next season, but its sustained presence in F1 is clearly conditional.

"We will be racing in whatever is the most successful race series," Wolff told the Daily Mail.

"F1 is absolutely the pinnacle of motor-racing and it's a very resilient race series.

"The new owners have been in the sport for a year, we have to give them support and we have to promote F1. It's our joint platform so we need to keep it great.

"For the next years we are part of the F1 show and we shall give it all to make it a good show, that's my first priority. What happens thereafter we will judge in 12 months whether we like what we get."

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