Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff Explains What F1 Drivers are Most “Sensitive” About

November 25, 2020 7:30 pm

Toto Wolff is one of the most successful team bosses in the history of Formula 1. He began his Formula 1 career at Williams F1 Team before moving to Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team in 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Austrian is known for his honest and calm attitude. He values and respects both of his drivers, giving them equal status within the team. Even when the going got tough during the Hamilton-Rosberg pairing, he maintained a fair stand.

This is something unique to their team, as most others adopt a policy of building the team around one driver. Ferrari is the most notorious and the biggest example of this. Famous for adopting a ‘Number 1’ driver policy, it can destroy the very soul of racing.

Most of the time, drivers are well-aware of their status in the team beforehand. However, when two drivers of similar abilities form the team, one must exercise no bias towards either of the drivers. Else, it can create tension in the team.

The most famous example of this is the souring relationship between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna at McLaren in the late 1980s. The Honda-powered team favored Senna over Prost, which left a sour taste in the Frenchman’s mouth. What followed was a bitter exit and the beginning of a heated rivalry.

Alain Prost, Grand Prix of South Africa, Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, March 14, 1993. (Photo by Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images)

Hence, it was important for Toto to seek his experience at McLaren. “Yeah, that was a really important discussion for me because Alain Prost is the biggest politician of all!

“But even he couldn’t understand or couldn’t influence the team’s alignment to the drivers. And McLaren was fantastic in their days.”

Toto Wolff adopts a ‘no favoritism’ policy at Mercedes

Crucially, unlike most of their counterpart, he implements it with the ‘Silver Arrows.’ On the lessons learned, he said

“What I have learned is you have to be transparent with the drivers. There mustn’t be any favoritism.

“Drivers are very sensitive when they feel that something is going against them. And even if it’s just something like the way people talk to them or don’t talk to them. It can let them go off the rail,” he continued.

“And this is something that I have also avoided. Always fair treatment.”

Formula One F1 – Eifel Grand Prix – Nurburgring, Nurburg, Germany – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas celebrates after qualifying pole position with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who qualified second Pool via REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

It shows. The Mercedes pair of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton rarely fall foul of team orders or are provided better resources than the other. Conclusively, the team operates in complete harmony among the drivers, overseen by Toto Wolff. If he leaves them at the end of the season, they will certainly feel his absence.

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