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Toto Wolff

Wolff interview: 'I have not thought about resigning after Mercedes fall'

Mercedes has endured a period of woe across the last two years but Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff is adamant that he is still the right person to lead the team going forward.

Wolff US
Interview
To news overview © XPBimages

It has been a difficult period for Mercedes - from 2014 to 2020 the Brackley-based squad enjoyed a spell of pure dominance but has since enjoyed a challenging time in Formula 1.

In 2022 the sport started operating under new technical regulations and Mercedes' instantly discovered a hindering problem in porpoising as the car bounced uncomfortably down the straight, adding to the fact that the challenger was inherently slow.

The zero sidepod concept that it has since abandoned brought it just a singular race victory, courtesy of George Russell at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in 2022.

Mercedes was once again off the pace this year and endured its first winless campaign since 2011.

Toto Wolff spoke to select media including RacingNews365 to assert that there is no finger-pointing going on behind the scenes.

“This is something we have been instilling in the organization straight from 2013,” Wolff stated.

“We blame the problem and not the person. We are a safe environment, nobody got fired because of non-performance. We always find solutions.

“If a department doesn't perform, it's my fault. Because then I haven't provided the right framework or wasn't part of hiring the right people.

“It makes no sense to blame someone who's not doing good enough because everybody is trying their best.

“This is the mindset we have in the organization. So no blame culture, we stuck to it, which I'm very proud of.”

No thoughts of stepping down

Wolff revealed that he is bearing the weight of Mercedes' struggles over the last two years.

“It's tough because I keep hammering myself,” he said. “You can say this is a physics problem and not a mystics problem or not an organisational topic.

“It’s more that we got the physics wrong. I keep questioning myself and my contribution all the time, because I feel myself as the team, as do many others.

“So in difficult times I wake up in the morning [and ask] what is it that I need to do?”

However, despite the hardships that Mercedes has faced, Wolff has endured no thoughts of stepping down from his leadership role.

“No, I don't,” he said when asked if he ever ponders himself resigning. “Because I still think that I can contribute to the team in my area of expertise.

“And that is, I think, keeping it together, although I'm very emotional sometimes. But they know me so well, that I have these difficult moments on Sunday night. I can contribute.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t found someone where I would say: 'I think that person has more energy, more drive, more skill and all of these factors that I believe are important to be a Team Principal'.”

There's no specific goal in mind for Wolff before he leaves Mercedes as he backed himself to continue to perform at a high level.

“We've seen situations when a Team Principal is no longer performing at his best think about Ron Dennis or Frank Williams, you don't want to hold on to it,” he said.

“In 2012, I was eager to be the Team Principal of Williams, and we did it together. My title was Executive Director because I forced it in a way because I said to Frank, ‘I want to run this’.

“I feel I will never be in that situation.”

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Wolff's clear vision

While Wolff is adamant that he is the right person to continue leading Mercedes, the Austrian asserted that he is open to organisational changes to improve the squad.

“I'm always on the lookout of what is the organisational structure of the future. And maybe it's different. Maybe there’s not a Team Principal or a CEO.

“As the head of Mercedes Benz Motorsport. I'm responsible for 2500 people, all of the engine side, all of the chassis side and all of the other programs in Mercedes.

“I'm an owner of the team. So I look at it with a perspective of 20 years, the next 20 years. And I would like to be fighting for championships.

“Whenever I feel the moment it's time to change the leadership, I wouldn’t mind whether that's good or bad. We’re doing this together with many other people. This is for me not like a coach or manager or trainer and saying, 'I want to go out on the high end, leave a legacy’.

“This is my thinking, I'm not going anywhere. And I hope that we're winning many, many more - but I don't feel any entitlement.”

Wolff pointed to examples of organisational structures in the United States as an example of how the Mercedes set-up could look in the future.

“There might be different leadership on the day-to-day, but it doesn't mean that I'm not involved anymore,” he said.

“For me when I look at US teams, you have Robert Kraft [New England Patriots CEO] or Jerry Jones [owner of Dallas Cowboys].

“They are they're very involved in what the team does, but they have a coach, the manager, the CEO and all these people that are that are running it on the day-to-day.”

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