Toto Wolff has given praise to the outgoing F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and admits he would have never made it to the post of Mercedes team principal without the support of the 86-year-old.

The Mercedes boss has backed the popular belief F1 would not be a global and successful sport without Ecclestone's driving force over the past four decades.

Despite clashing over various incidents during their time in F1, Wolff says he always had an amicable and honest relationship with Ecclestone and admires his achievements over the past 40 years as commander-in-chief of the sport.

"We must pay tribute to Bernie. It is quite amazing being 40 years at the helm of a sport," Wolff said. "He spotted the opportunity that Formula One has the potential to become what it is today. He has the vision and he built an empire. He has a great ability of deal making: he just executes.

"In terms of my personal experience, I wouldn't be in Formula One without Bernie. He supported me back in the day at Williams and, even if we had some ups and downs with Mercedes, it always stayed very amicable. We had a good relationship - although we disagreed on the business side. But that's how it should be.

"When you stay at the top of an organisation as long as Bernie did, it is clear that it will be shaped in your image. He had the great ability of always being present. When there was a fire somewhere, even one that he might have ignited, he put it out quickly."

Bernie Ecclestone's most controversial moments!

On Monday it was announced Ecclestone was to leave his position as CEO of F1 to be replaced by Liberty Media's Chase Carey who heads up a new structure which also includes Ross Brawn (sporting) and Sean Bratches (commercial).

Despite Ecclestone's swift exit, just five months after the announcement of Liberty Media's planned $8 million takeover of F1, Wolff has joined a number of senior voices in backing the move and encouraging the sport to 'grasp the opportunity'.

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