In the 12th episode of Formula 1’s ‘Beyond The Grid’ podcast, Toto Wolff speaks on his journey as a racer to becoming an investor and finally a team boss, handling Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg, family life and more.
The 46-year-old starts the podcast recorded during Singapore GP talking about Mercedes’ non-executive chairman Niki Lauda. Wolff revealed he met Lauda in the hospital before flying into Singapore with the former F1 driver greeting him in his style with a slang.
He said Lauda is recovering well adding that they are related as Lauda is the cousin of Wolff’s ex-wife. He then moves to his role with Mercedes which he reckons was a win-win situation for him and the manufacturer when they first decided to work together.
Wolff talks about the stress with the job especially highlight the tumultuous times when it went out of hand during the title fight between Hamilton and Rosberg. He reveals of a chat with former champion Alain Prost regarding the matter in 2014.
They discussed the time at McLaren when Prost and Ayrton Senna raced together which resulted in a huge political fight within the team. Prost felt that McLaren were not transparent in their case while Wolff is even if its is about stating bitter truth.
Wolff then discusses the growth of Hamilton as a driver and person especially after the fallout in 2016 when they sat together to discuss their future. He reiterates that giving Hamilton his personal space is what is helping the driver to grow even more.
The Austrian enjoys running the team and being in the situation. He then speaks about losing his dad at the age of 15-years and how he took it in the positive way to become the person he is now.
He talks of how his racing career started at the age of 17-years but then had to forcefully stop in 1994 after which he pursued a different line all-together to work in a bank. That’s where his career as an investor started.
He returned to racing in friendly competitions in 1999 after which he connected with Mercedes-AMG’s DTM faction and he ended up investing in the team and buy a stake in HWA AG while helping young drivers in the sport.
He helps DTM driver Bruno Spengler, Supercars driver Alexandre Premat and also Valtteri Bottas. It was from there that he joined hands with Williams after meeting Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head in 2009.
He was instrumental to help the team become a public listed outfit which he reckons is beneficial from transparency point of view. One of the highlights in his career was the 2014 Austrian GP when Mercedes finished 1-2 with Williams 3-4.
It was all-Wolff 1-2-3-4 as he had shares of the Grove-based team then. However, he puts his family ahead of all his other activities as he reckons spending time with them, his children and wife Susie as the biggest achievement.
[Listen: Stefano Domenicali]