Mercedes surprised with a livery launch alongside a major partnership with INEOS and Toto Wolff was present to answer all questions related to F1 future and more.
Appearing for the first time since the end of the 2019 F1 season, Mercedes team principal Wolff spoke at length at the 2020 livery launch and INEOS partnership announcement at Royal Automobile Club on Monday in the United Kingdom.
Touched upon were things like the partnership with INEOS, future of Mercedes along with his own and also Lewis Hamilton. They also spoke about the Chinese GP and the British’s Government decision of banning combustion cars.
Here’s most of what Wolff spoke:
INEOS partnership and how it came about –
Wolff: “Yeah it’s obviously a superb, new chapter for us to attract INEOS and I think what kind of unites us is the ambition, and the competitiveness. We got to know each other after Barcelona testing last year, and I’ve known Dave for a while, who shares that competitiveness, and when I started to look a little bit into INEOS I met Andy. You can see what mankind is able to create with passion, understanding, and the drive to succeed.
“Over 20 years from a startup, to one of the most successful companies in the world. I think these values unite us, and we got on immediately, and shared a passion for competitive sports, be it sailing, be it cycling, we loved the 1:59 attempt, and it was just a matter of time before we would find that common denominator in F1. The fastest lap in the world through engineering and here we are and we start this great chapter for these two companies.”
Five-year deal and Mercedes’ future –
Wolff: “We are in this for the long-term. F1 provides a great marketing platform for our brand. This is what we do, we build race cars and we build road cars. F1 is the halo platform for hybrid engineering – something that is not communicated enough because it was talked down at the beginning of the V6 hybrid era, and it’s something we should put more emphasis on.
“In that respect, with all the things that are out in the media, we like the platform but, at the same time, we are in negotiations with the rights holders, and things need to be sorted out. But the [INEOS] partnership is something that indicates our wish to continue our successful journey in F1. As for our future, it is an ongoing process, and it’s a complicated set of contracts, between the FIA, the commercial rights holder and all the teams.
“That needs time, and the devil is in the details. So I wouldn’t commit here to a specific date because there are quite some topics that are to be agreed on, and it’s a work in progress. Clearly there is the will and the wish for all of the stake holders to come close, while we embark on the 2021 season, because that would be an uncomfortable situation.”
Hamilton and his importance –
Wolff: “I think it is an obvious pairing going forward. We would like to have the fastest man in the car and I guess – I know that Lewis wants to be in the fastest car, so there is an obvious mutual outcome. We travel around the world for almost 10 months of the year and we get on each other’s nerves almost every second weekend, and what we do over the winter is we leave each other in peace.
“And the last conversation I had with him was on the evening before the Christmas party where we had a nice chat that we would start our discussion when he comes back from America and we have probably kicked off the season. I have great belief in the ability of this team to attract the best drivers and at the moment Lewis has proven that he is the best driver with his six titles and in the medium/long-term. I would hope that we are able to continue to provide technology to the best driver and attract them.”
Coronavirus and Chinese GP situation –
Wolff: “Last week, Formula E was cancelled and they are three weeks before us and they cancelled last week. So I would very much hope that we go to China, and actually after this I am going to the China embassy for my biometric scan – that is also news – so at the moment everything looks like we are going to China, but not going would be a shame. We had full grandstands last year, it was sold out.
“China is starting to become a really important market in terms of fan followership. We have great activities in Shanghai around the race and not going there would obviously not be great for the fans and ourselves. But, health comes first and I hope that they get in control of that. That is the bigger priority.”
Wolff’s own future with Mercedes –
Wolff: “My role is different than all the other team principals, I’m a partner in the team, I am the managing partner of the team; we have a joint partner with Daimler, and honestly I have to pinch myself every day to be in the opportunity to be in that situation. So it’s very different, we’re planning our long-term strategy together with Daimler, and Jim and his partners coming in is yet another building block, so all sails are set for success for the future. But we are – like with Lewis – we are in the middle of discussion, tweaking here and there and I don’t want to [make a] live comment right here about the date, and you’re going to ask me all the time.”
British Government on banning ICE cars beyond 2035 –
Wolff: “The F1 hybrid power units are the most efficient power units in the world. We have more than 50% thermal efficiency. There is no other engine like this. And, our road car division is learning from that, so now by adding the bio components to the fuel, gradually we will be stepping that up. It’s a joint-exercise between the FIA, between the fuel suppliers, and all of us teams, I think we are pushing ourselves hard like we need to.
“Jean Todt is at the forefront of lowering our CO2 footprint, lowering emissions, and we are on board to take this challenge to make the power unit even more efficient. Now everybody is running to 100% electric vehicles, but when you look at the forecast that Daimler is giving for 2030, [there] will be quite a lot of hybrid vehicles and if you ask me from my personal side, I’ve driven all of these vehicles and for me, hybrid is a good solution to go electric in urban areas which is obvious from your home to your office where you plug it in, charging on the road and you go to the airport, you’re always running out of electricity.”
Beside the above topics, Wolff was critical of the recent story regarding an urgent meeting to decide the future of Mercedes in F1 by Daimler. He played it down hugely as he also spoke about ‘long’ contracts for Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen.
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