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Wolff agrees with performance-based prize money

NEWS STORY
30/06/2016

Earlier this week, Bernie Ecclestone revealed that once the current agreement with the teams comes to an end in 2020, he would like to do away with the controversial bonuses paid to certain teams and follow the example of the Premier League, whereby the prize pot is shared equally.

In addition to the percentage teams receive from the main prize pot, which was worth almost a billion dollars in 2015, four teams receive a special Constructors' Championship bonus. Then there are other bonuses such as the historic bonus paid to Ferrari, which has been a stalwart of the sport since its inception in 1950.

However, the bonuses bear little relationship to teams standings in the championship, meaning that McLaren, for example, can end up with more money than Red Bull, which scored 187 points and finished fourth in the 2015 standings compared to the Woking outfit's 27 points and ninth.

Similarly, despite finishing runner-up to Mercedes, and 275 points adrift of the German team, Ferrari walked away with more (approx. $21m) cash.

"We had a long discussion, one topic was how to redistribute the prize fund going forward," Wolff told reporters in Austria. "I think it’s in everybody’s interest to have stability long-term and we discussed the various models.

"The prize fund is growing so we are talking about upside," he continued, "how the upside can be distributed in a way that is more fair and equitable."

With potentially the most to lose, Ferrari has maintained silence since Ecclestone first made the suggestion, and whilst the likes of Force India, Sauber and Haas would be delighted with such a move, the Italian team is hardly likely to accept such a momentous move gracefully.

Speaking for Red Bull, another potential big loser should Ecclestone's plan be implemented, Christian Horner made it clear that whilst he would be glad to see the smaller teams receive more money this should not be at the expense of their rivals. The Briton also argued that his team was entitled to its bonuses not only due to its successful, though brief, history in F1 but also what it does in promoting the sport.

It's early days, and one cannot help but feel that Ecclestone, a master in the art of smoke and mirrors, has let slip this 'proposal' because he has something else in mind.

Fact is, having happily taken the bonuses for the last few years, none of the bigger teams is going to be willing to take a pay cut be it to keep smaller teams in the sport or not.

Wolff, who like non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, has a sizeable stake in the Mercedes team, appreciates that the sport has an historical debt to the likes of Ferrari and therefore believes any future system should be based on current performance, historical achievements and a basic share of the pot.

"I would think the three elements are probably the right way going forward," he said.

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