The Heart-Rending Story of Poverty and Loneliness That Hides Behind the Smile of Mercedes F1 Boss Toto Wolff

Published 11/03/2021, 7:52 AM EDT
NUERBURG, GERMANY – Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff talks in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice ahead of the F1 Eifel Grand Prix at Nuerburgring in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty Images)

What is the key to Mercedes’ dominance? The answers are many. It’s Lewis Hamilton, it’s also their car and also their strong finances among other factors. But the circle that goes around the three silver lines and brings them together to make the Silver Arrows is their team principal, Toto Wolff.


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Yet for the first time in almost a decade, Wolff’s reign of dominance has been threatened.

But does he feel the pressure? No. Not at all. 


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In a recent interview with Daily Mail, Wolff unraveled a lot of things.

He reasoned that the pressures he faces in his job as a Team Principal are incomparable to the trauma of his early life.

“Compared to my childhood, my adolescence, the struggles I had to go through, this is just good fun, because what happened in my early life has left permanent scars.” 

Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal – Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff applauds FIA/Handout via REUTERS

The Austrian expressed that despite his success and the nature of his job, he still finds it difficult to let go of the haunting years of his early life.

“I still wake up having dreamt I am alone. It’s a dream I have had since I was a child. It can happen any time. It is not about pressure, not about the job.”

Toto Wolff took control of Mercedes and his own life

Because of his father’s illness and untimely death, Wolff learned the importance of being self-reliant quite early in his life.

I can remember at 14 thinking I wanted to be responsible for myself, I didn’t want to be dependent on anybody, I knew I couldn’t rely on anybody.”

When Toto Wolff joined Mercedes, the team had finished in fifth place in the constructors’ championship. He had joined from Williams, where he was a shareholder and an Executive Director.

At the end of his first year in charge, Mercedes leapfrogged from fifth to second in 2014. And ever since then, nobody has finished ahead of them.

Toto Wolff’s Mercedes have won seven consecutive double championships, creating an era of dominance for the history books.

An opportunity of a lifetime

Red Bull, the team from Wolff’s native Austria, has emerged as the David who becomes stronger every race to beat Mercedes’ Goliath.

With four races to go, Christian Horner’s Red Bull are predicted by many to end Mercedes’s dominance.

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 26, 2021 Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff with Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS

And they might just end up doing so. After all, they’re on the front foot.

But holding off Red Bull until the checkered flag in Abu Dhabi will be an official stamp for the title of the greatest team and era in Formula 1’s history.


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When Toto Wolff joined Mercedes in 2013, Williams Team Principal Sir Frank Williams said“Toto has a long history with them and I certainly was not going to stand in the way of him accepting this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Indeed, it has proved to be an opportunity of a lifetime for both Wolff and Mercedes.


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But winning this season is another opportunity of a lifetime that Toto Wolff would want to take. This may not soothe the trauma of his past, but it will cement him as a legend of the sport.

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Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A Graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for the better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in the future.