Friday 20 March at 08:35 :
Mar.20 (GMM) Two conspicuous absences from F1's crisis conference calls are sure to ramp up speculation about the future of Toto Wolff.
The Daily Mail reports that both Wolff, the Mercedes team boss, and Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll did not take part in two separate rounds of talks this week that discussed the sport's next moves amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Two days ago, it emerged that Stroll has upped his stake in the Aston Martin car company from 16.7 to 25 percent. The Canadian fashion billionaire intends to rebrand Racing Point from 2021.
But in January, it was rumoured that Stroll might actually team up with Wolff to take over the Mercedes works team and rename that Aston Martin instead.
And with most of Daimler's operations suspended across Europe due to the pandemic, the pressure to withdraw Mercedes from F1 will only be ramping up.
According to correspondent Jonathan McEvoy, Stroll and Wolff travelled back from Australia together.
"Suggestions were rife on Thursday night - though denied by Mercedes - that Wolff is being lined up to take over as chief executive of Aston Martin", he wrote.
If confirmed, it may also have implications for the future of Lewis Hamilton, whose Mercedes contract runs out this year.
It is also claimed that, during the crisis teleconferences, there were heated exchanges between Christian Horner and Zak Brown on the one hand, and Ferrari's Mattia Binotto on the other.
An insider said: "There was genuine anger at Binotto's reluctance to give way over deferring the 2021 regulations. It got very heated.
"He didn't want to concede a competitive advantage for the greater good."
Ultimately, Ferrari did agree. Binotto told F1's official website: "Ferrari is ready to take responsibility for a choice that must be made in the ultimate interest of this sport.
"It is certainly not the time for selfishness and tactics."