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Toto Wolff: F1 is not broken

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Brawn: I'm not a fan of DRS (2:31)

New Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn hopes for a return to more natural and skill-based overtaking in future. (2:31)

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has warned Formula One's new owners against making dramatic changes to the sport, insisting it is not "broken".

F1 came under new ownership on Monday, bringing an end to Bernie Ecclestone's 40-year reign and heralding a new era for the sport. As F1's new management starts looking at ways to improve the sport, Wolff, whose team has dominated for the last three years, said it does not require a complete makeover.

"Considering that we as a team have been doing pretty well during the last seasons, audiences have developed in a very positive way," he said in an interview on Mercedes' official website. "The last couple of races we had record-breaking audiences in some markets in terms of TV spectators.

"There has been a lot of talk about F1 not doing well. Actually, we have been doing pretty well considering that the market has changed tremendously.

"I doubt that younger generations switch on a traditional TV at two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. They expect to watch it on a mobile device or via social media. Nevertheless, our audiences are pretty strong.

"We mustn't talk the sport down, as it is not broken. There are ways to optimise it and there are areas which are blind spots in which we haven't done a lot of work -- for example the digital environment and social media. But we need to understand them."

In an interview with ESPN, F1's new motorsport managing director Ross Brawn said he plans to set up a research group to understand how best to improve on-track action. Wolff agrees that F1 needs to give careful consideration to any future rule changes so as not to alienate its existing fanbase.

"I think we need to acknowledge that Formula One is a technical sport, so it will always polarise," he said. "There are people who will say that they hate it and others will say that they love it. That is okay. But one thing is for sure -- we shouldn't make it a beta test.

"We shouldn't mess with our loyal fans and our audiences by implementing rules and regulations that we haven't assessed properly. We should use data in a scientific approach and see what works in other sports and other entertainment platforms, then combine that with the great strengths and assets of Formula One."

Liberty Media has employed former ESPN executive Sean Bratches to drag the sport's commercial side up to date after F1 was slow to adopt digital media as a marketing tool. Wolff believes there is a middle path to be found between a traditional TV rights model and providing content for free on the internet.

"Social media is very important as a marketing tool to involve our audiences -- both current fans and future fans," he said. "But we have loyal partners in the TV stations that have been broadcasting our sport for a long time and have helped contribute to the team's revenues.

"You can't offer it for free in the digital world. You can see it as a marketing tool but not as the silver bullet that will solve all the problems."

He added: "The Ecclestone era ending is a pretty big thing. I'm very curious and optimistic as to what the future holds. But one thing is for sure - the wheels turn very fast and yesterday's news doesn't interest anybody any more.

"We need to embrace the future and we shouldn't be too nostalgic about the past. This sport has a huge opportunity for growing bigger and bigger and we could all benefit from this. We need to push in that direction."