Mercedes boss Toto Wolff considering unscheduled trip to Japanese Grand Prix

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is considering an unscheduled trip to Japan this weekend to confront the fallout from the much-anticipated cost cap row that is consuming Formula One.

The FIA is set to reveal on Wednesday if any teams have failed to comply with last season’s £114million budget.

Red Bull has faced unproven allegations that they broke the financial rules as they carried Max Verstappen to his championship win over Lewis Hamilton in 2021.

Italian Grand Prix – Race – Monza
Christian Horner is confident Red Bull are not in breach of the rules (David Davies/PA)

Wolff has called on the FIA to take robust action against any team that overspent. Christian Horner said he is confident Red Bull are not in breach and accused Wolff of “hugely defamatory, fictitious claims”. The Red Bull team principal also threatened legal proceedings against Mercedes during a toxic weekend in Singapore.

The F1 circus now heads to Japan – a destination where Verstappen will take his second consecutive title with four rounds to spare if he wins and sets the fastest lap.

In an interview with the PA news agency on Friday night, Wolff said it was his intention not to travel to Suzuka – missing his first race since 2019 and only his second in nine years amid the sport’s demanding schedule.

But it is understood the Austrian, 50, could change his travel plans, depending on the FIA’s verdict.

British Grand Prix 2022 – Race – Silverstone
Toto Wolff feels travelling to every race is unsustainable (PA)

Wolff also revealed he will miss a number of events next season to “survive” F1’s 24-round calendar, and added that he is “absolutely certain” Hamilton will win an eighth title with Mercedes. He also expects the Briton, 37, to sign a new deal.

Looking ahead to next year’s record-breaking calendar, Wolff said: “I will start to skip a few races. The whole team needs to look at it.

“It is not sustainable for anyone to do 24 races. The drivers have to, but we start on Monday in the office and go through until the end of the week.

“We need to find a solution, and I think the race team will skip a few races every year in order to survive.

“There are a few individuals that can take over some of my tasks. Not physically being at the race meeting doesn’t mean that I am not at the race.

“I have a full intercom setup. There is a race support room at the factory, and I will be part of every single debriefing. I just won’t be there physically.”

Mercedes endured a troubling night at Sunday’s rain-hit race in Singapore with Hamilton finishing only ninth after he made two mistakes. George Russell crossed the line 14th and last following collisions with Valtteri Bottas and Mick Schumacher.

Hamilton’s £40million-a-year deal expires at the end of next season, but Wolff says the British driver  will renew his contract.

“I am absolutely certain that Lewis can win the eighth world title with us,” added Wolff.

Lewis Hamilton file photo
Toto Wolff expects Lewis Hamilton to sign a new deal (PA)

“He is not going to go elsewhere, and if we can provide a car that is competitive and he can fight for wins, he is going to win more titles.

“For him retirement, is still far away. But he asks himself, ‘am I still happy with my performances?’ And once he comes to the conclusion that he is not, he will be the first one to say that is it.

“But I have no doubt that we will be extending. The science today can make sports people, if they are disciplined, go much longer than in the past. Look at Fernando Alonso. He is 41, and he is still mega so no doubt, there are many years left in Lewis.”