Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has jumped to the defence of Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, who has come under fire in the early going in 2022.
Formula 1 chose to stay and race in Saudi Arabia despite a missile attack on an Aramco facility carried out of Houthi militants just a few miles from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, but the Italian affirmed that he had received “total assurance” from the local authorities that it was safe to continue with the weekend as planned.
The decision was described as “incongruous” by 1996 world champion Damon Hill, but Wolff later declared that the racetrack was “probably the safest place in Saudi Arabia.”
The decision to race in Saudi Arabia to begin with was met with staunch criticism from fans, but the Austrian maintains that Domenicali has found a good balance between sporting and business decisions.
“I think Stefano is doing an excellent job of striking a balance between new, interesting venues that are not only attractive from a financial point of view, but also serve to attract new audiences to develop,” he told Motorsport-Total.com.
The F1 circus travels to Miami this year before returning to Vegas next season for the first time in over 40 years.
The 50-year-old affirmed that “it doesn’t get any better” than racing in Florida and the entertainment capital of the world, and suggests that the pristine, welcoming venues F1 visits plays as big a role in their attractiveness as the actual racing spectacle.
“So it’s important for the fans, for the local fans, to race at these iconic locations. And you can see that here (in Melbourne): there’s great attendance.”
The Mercedes boss, who has been in at the helm since 2014 after the departure of Ross Brawn, does not believe fans have a partiality towards certain races based upon the locations the pinnacle of motorsport goes to.
“I think most of the fans who follow Formula 1 on TV or social media really don’t care where we race. That’s my opinion,” he stated.
Mercedes have endured a difficult start to the season, and Wolff has previously affirmed that there is no “magic fix” to their struggles under the new technical regulations.