Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has opened up on his future, hinting on a different role to what he is doing as he adds on Concorde Agreement too.
The team principal of F1’s most successful teams of the last six seasons, Mercedes’ Wolff will always be in the spotlight, particularly as it pertains to his future – a future which is now in question with no contract and links to some rival teams.
The relation and buying of minority shares of Aston Martin raised it up but Wolff has been pretty clear that he wants to continue with Mercedes. It may well be in a different role as he hinted this weekend as talks with Daimler AG continues behind the scenes.
Wolff, when probed about his future, wouldn’t confirm that he is exploring options outside of Mercedes, but he openly entertained the idea of him occupying a different role within the team – something that had been previously rumoured.
The role will be taken up keeping his family on his mind too. Additionally, Wolff also spoke about his entrepreneurial role and selling his Williams shares, which he had already done but a default payment meant he got back five percent from it.
Discussions with Daimler AG, future:
Wolff: “I really have enjoyed many years in F1 in that role and the discussions that we are having are very good. I’m happy that my relationship with Ola is probably as good as it can be and we speak almost every day. There are many factors that make me want to stay in Formula 1. On the other side, it takes a toll and this plays into my consideration but as it stands, there is no reason not to continue with Mercedes and we will find out in which role.
“You know this is down to the discussion between Ola and myself. We want to do the best for the team and continue to see the team prosper. My plan is to continue but I never want to be in a situation that you’re becoming from very good to good and try to play my part in the team and that is the discussions we’re currently having.
“I enjoy it mostly because I love to work with the people that are in the team and there is no better place for me to be than in a meeting room with the engineers, to sit in the garage and watch the great work that is happening around. I enjoy the battles that we have off-track, I like to engage with our sponsors and partners and this is how I feel. What that means for the future is a decision that I need to take together with my wife and together with Ola and that doesn’t mean that I won’t be around as a team principal or I won’t be around in any other role but it’s just that I’m thinking about it.”
Future linked with Lewis Hamilton:
Wolff: “I think Lewis staying at that moment is the best he can and it’s what he wants to do. He has the possibility of achieving great success going forward, winning more races and hopefully championships. It’s flattering that he says that it’s dependent on what I do but I think he doesn’t need me, he has a great team there that will always support him. I haven’t taken the decision yet, these are discussions that are ongoing and that are positive and I enjoy them.
“I don’t want to give it a spin that I am leaving because that’s not the case. It’s just that I’m in a moment of reflection, of reflection of where F1 is heading to, what is happening around the Covid case and also personal reasons, that I’ve said before. Susie is in a good place, running a Formula E team and that means she’s away a lot. I’ve been to God knows how many races, I think 20 Formula 1 races in the last eight years and that is something we’re thinking about.
Re-selling Williams shares, Aston Martin:
Wolff: “I completely understand that if you have been successful over a few years and me as an entrepreneur, which I have always been, having interests in certain indirect relationships with players in the sport – this is annoying. If I were on the other side I would also pick on these things. There is one essential point with me: when I joined Mercedes, I decided, and this was an intense discussion with Mercedes, to do everything in the interest of the sport. So, to clarify: I sold the Williams shares but I got them back because they were held in escrow and the last payment defaulted.
“It’s not something that I wanted and I made it clear with Mercedes that my main priority with those shares is to sell them. So the process that has been started by Claire and the team is something that I really appreciate because it allows me to sell those shares. That’s number one. Number two: The Aston Martin investment is tiny. I’ve bought a few shares in a car company that has no direct shareholding with an F1 team but is simply doing the branding on the Red Bull car this year and on the Racing Point next year.
“I see it as a good investment – I like the products, the new management team is fantastic. And I have no board seat, which was agreed with Daimler, and no other involvement. I’m not a consultant, I’m not an executive and I’m just watching from the sideline what happens. And driver management. I’ve refrained from direct driver management. It’s all under the roof of MGP, of the Mercedes Formula 1 team.
“We have tried, like any other big team, to really look at the talent that is coming up from karting onwards, and like Ferrari, that has expanded its activities in the junior programme, and has some very promising young drivers coming up, we have done that a few years ago. Red Bull has done it. There is no conflict of interest. But I understand that it pisses some people off and sometimes the perception is something that is important to recognise and I do that.”
Ready to sign Concorde Agreement:
Wolff: “I’ve been pretty vocal after the meetings that we had within the team [Mercedes] to say this is what we need and this are the clarifications we need in order to move forward but I’ve changed my opinion in Silverstone for exactly the reason I told you before: I don’t think that the teams will ever be united, everybody’s tried to achieve some little deals outside, there’s a blame culture in the media so we’ve decided to move forward with Liberty, I’ve had some very constructive discussions with Chase over the last weekend and most of the clarifications that we wanted to achieve have been discussed and I feel that we are in a good point to sign the Concorde Agreement and move on.”
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Here’s update on F1 Concorde Agreement
Here’s how F1 Concorde Agreement talks played out last weekend