F1 Boss Toto Wolff Talks Lewis Hamilton, Niki Lauda and His Obsession With Winning

Where to begin with Toto Wolff? For even casual fans of Formula One, Wolff looms as a giant. In less than a decade the 48-year-old Austrian has elevated his name to equal the greatest managers in the sport’s history—paralleling legends like Enzo Ferrari, Colin Chapman and Sir Frank Williams. Since becoming a shareholder, Team Principal and CEO of Mercedes-AMG Petronas in 2013, Wolff has galvanized what had been a mediocre midfield team into an unassailable scimitar of domination. 

Earlier this month with prize driver Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix the Mercedes squad captured their record seventh consecutive Constructors’ Championship. Then just this past weekend when Hamilton, widely considered the motorsport’s GOAT, crossed the checkered flag at the Turkish Grand Prix he earned his seventh Driver’s Championship title, matching Michael Schumacher’s once-thought-unbreakable record. 

It’s no hyperbole to argue his team’s hegemony is unmatched in Formula One’s history, the pairing with Hamilton now elevating the duo to a rarefied status matched only by the likes of perhaps Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan. 

We caught up with Toto earlier this season as he prepared for the Russian round of GP action.

Although you raced as a young man, you made your name in venture capital. But finance seems completely different from the operational aspect of running an F1 team. How did you make the transition? 

I think running a Formula One team, you need to have a knowledge about motor racing. Certainly my previous racing experience helped me, but then running a team is a lot like a normal company. It’s about finance. It’s about making the right investment decisions. It is about forming the right organization, understanding which insight is needed, identifying weaknesses and strengths. This is very much what I did in private equity, putting together the best possible team. And I think today we have a very strong group of people that has joined on this journey [in F1]. We have tripled the sponsorship. When I joined, it was on a level that was almost ridiculous. 

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Today we probably generate the highest income in sponsorship in all of Formula One. We’ve really uplifted our broadcasting revenues; we are almost profitable. On top of that, we have €3.5 billion of advertising value that we generate for Mercedes-Benz and the partners. So it’s very much like a conventional company with the difference that we are being benchmarked 21 times a year, and we are only as good as our last race. This is an area where I basically learned on the job how to motivate our people, how to energize the organization, how to develop everybody, and how to implement culture and values that bring us performance. This is actually I would say my core competence in the exercise and something that I really enjoy doing. 

This is the apex in motorsport. It’s hyper stressful, yet you’re always cool and collected. Others are tearing their hair out, and you manage to be the calm in the center …read more

Source:: MAXIM – News


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