By Martina Fuchs
MONTE CARLO, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Toto Wolff, team principal and CEO of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview during the Monaco E-Prix on Saturday he hopes Formula One will have a "strong footprint" with several races in China in the future.
"We've been in Shanghai before and couldn't be there the last two years, but this is an important market for us," Wolff said on the sidelines of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in the principality of Monaco, a small enclave on the Mediterranean coast of France, over the weekend.
The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai has been absent from the calendar since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and isn't part of the 2022 schedule either.
"I'd like to not only race in Shanghai, I'd also like to race in Beijing. It's a fantastic market for us as Mercedes, and I believe we should be embedded there with a strong footprint. We have three races in the U.S. now, Las Vegas, Miami and Austin and if we can do the same thing in China, that would be great."
The current 2022 season has been no cakewalk for Mercedes. In the latest Grand Prix in Emilia Romagna, Italy, the team's George Russell finished in P4 with seven-time world champion and star driver Lewis Hamilton ending the race in P13.
Red Bull with world champion Max Verstappen meanwhile took maximum points and finished 1-2.
"From our own perspective at Mercedes, we have won eight consecutive world championships in a row and there's a new generation of cars now. We've come out of the blocks a little bit slow," Wolff admitted.
"We are the third quickest, but we will eventually find our way back. But you need to be humble about it and accept somebody has done a good job," he commented.
When asked about his relationship with Hamilton, Wolff told Xinhua: "We have beyond the professional relationship been 10 years together in Formula One in our team, he has become a friend, a person of trust. I couldn't wish for a better driver. He's the best that has ever been in Formula One."
Asked about his view on Formula E's new Gen3 all-electric car that was launched in Monaco on Thursday and is scheduled to race in Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, Wolff said.
"Formula E is an exciting platform. We talk about it being new, but it's actually not so new. It has been going on for a few years. All-electric with a new generation of cars being launched, more powerful, more efficient, it's a nice platform to play on."
"The Generation 3 will reach speeds of above 300 kilometers an hour in city circuits and therefore will come much closer to Formula One performance," the executive added.
It comes as Formula One has announced plans last year to push for sustainable engine standards by 2026 with cars using "100 percent sustainable fuels" in a bid to reduce automotive carbon emissions and catch up with the auto industry.
Wolff said: "In terms of a global platform, Formula One is really going from strength to strength. We had more than 400,000 spectators in Australia, and more than a billion global audience, and it's an exciting platform that is also hybrid and will go 100 percent sustainable fuel by 2026, so I think we are in a good place with Formula One." ■