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Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: ‘We let the drivers fight… unless it’s a nasty fight’
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Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Jun 2014   |  11:29 pm GMT  |  108 comments

With his team leading the Constructors’ World Championship after six wins in seven races and his drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton first and second in the drivers’ standings, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has every reason to feel pleased after seven of the 19 rounds.

And yet the technical problems which affected both Mercedes cars in Canada shows that there is a potential chink in the armour while the bad blood between the drivers in Monaco showed that it won’t be all plain sailing this year.

Today a small group of Spanish journalists visited the Mercedes F1 factory in Brackley, England and had the opportunity to conduct and open Q&A session with Wolff.

Our reporter Tabatha Valls Halling was among them. Here is what the Mercedes team boss had to say:

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How much did you worry during the race in Canada?
“You get used to winning pretty quickly. It almost became a normality to win the race or finish 1-2, but what happened to us in Canada made us realise that we couldn’t continue winning forever. There was always going to be a race that we weren’t going to win or finish 1-2 because of external circumstances, accidents or reliability issues.

“The thought we had instantly on Sunday in Canada was that we were going to immediately lose both cars. It was a shock. We got the call from Lewis over the radio saying that he had no power, and 20 seconds later we got that same call from Nico. It’s then when you realize that we could be losing both cars at the same time. This hadn’t crossed my mind before last week… Without counting the thought of them both crashing at Turn 1. It was a good wake-up call for us.”

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Are your drivers really at war with each other?
“There’s always going to be a war between the drivers because you need to beat your team-mate – he’s the one who is between you and your successful career. If your team-mate beats you, your market value deteriorates. You can have a war which is detrimental to the team, one where the drivers are clashing with each other, not speaking to each other, damaging the spirit in the team, damaging the brand because they behave in an arrogant way in front of the media… Or it can be a very subtle war, where they just want to beat each other and get any possible advantage throughout the whole of the weekend. What we see, what the media see, is a show.

“They are not friends and I don’t think they’ve ever been friends. Lewis and Nico are colleagues. They try to learn from each other, get motivated, but their number one priority is to beat their team-mate. We can say that the team comes first, that we need to win the Constructors’ Championship over and over again and the drivers will say that the team comes first, but the truth is that they don’t give a shit. It’s about winning the Drivers’ Championship, and this is where we need to manage them in the right way, reminding them what’s important for us. But it’s not always easy.”

How different are the two drivers from each other?
“Lewis and Nico have very different personalities. They have a past together, they’ve raced in karting in the same team and spent holidays together as kids, but they were very competitive since the beginning and in terms of personality they are very different. They need different life set-ups in order to function well.

AMG
“Nico needs a structured life, he’s very precise with his planning and very diligent with how he acts. His whole life is very structured.

“Lewis is a driving genius who has increased his level of performance because he’s raised his professionalism and approach. Nevertheless, what he needs in order to function properly is to feel comfortable in his life, and he feels comfortable by travelling, perusing his hobbies and many aspects of life which are different to F1. This is not detrimental to his job as a race driver; Lewis doesn’t go partying, or drinking; he’s very precise and knows what he wants. The Lewis you see on track today is completely different to what he was before.

“During the weekend there’s no noise or people around him any more.”

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Is that as a result of your decisions?
“No, it was his decision. We spent some time talking to him and questioned if it was right for him to have so many people around him as well as the dogs… He needs to understand what is good for him. At a certain stage in his life that was good for him.”

Are they free to race each other throughout the entire season?
“It’s very difficult because we let them fight unless it’s a nasty fight. We are sharing data and they must be transparent with each other. There can’t be any dirty moves. What happened a few years ago with Lewis and Fernando at McLaren is unacceptable in our team and would not happen, there would be severe consequences if that happened.

“Nevertheless, they are always trying to find that tiny little advantage in order to beat each other, so now we let them race, but there could well be a certain stage during the season where we say we cannot do this any more. We let them race in Canada, where we lost one car and the second nearly retired and we still don’t know exactly 100% why.

“So if we find out that racing at the highest level is detrimental to our campaign, it could well be that we decide to take a step back. But this is a constant dynamic process that we analyse every week. It’s not a general principal of saying let’s let them race or let’s have team orders, it’s something that we are thinking about all the time.”

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108 Comments
  1. Kram gp says:

    Toto sounds like a straight talking guy without all the BS that often surrounds F1.( Ron Dennis anyone). Merc have the right idea in letting their drivers go racing, but they have got the luxury of a huge advantage over the other teams so if there was to be an accident then it wouldn’t impact on the championship.

    1. james encore says:

      Every time I hear Toto, or read what he’s said, he goes up a fraction more in my estimation.

      And Mercedes idea of having 3 in charge of the team looked a bit iffy to my eyes initially, but it looks to be working vey well.

      1. Kristiane Cyrus says:

        Every time I hear Toto, his tone and accent reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger. :D

      2. Olli says:

        Beat me to it.

      3. Random 79 says:

        Second that – I’ve also been proven wrong.

    2. Tara says:

      yeah i agree. i watched the whole press conference in Monaco and it was a really interesting to see the dynamic between Claire, Christian and Toto and how they communicated with each other and the press, with the contrast of Marco Mattiacci’s first foray.
      I respect them a lot more after that

      Also i dont think that if Brawn was still there he would be letting them race as closely as they have been. I think it would have been see whos winning after first pit stops and that person leads. full stop.
      I do think his an asset to the sport and he is missed tho.

      1. aveli says:

        brawn is not at mercedes and he hasn’t stopped anyone from racing. why can’t we just stick with reality and leave the ifs alone? we don’t know what brawn would have done and what he wouldn’t have done unless he comes back to do them.

  2. Elie says:

    Its very interesting that Totto says they still dont know what caused the problem and that if racing caused the problems they had at Montreal it could be that they take a step back and dont let them race so hard. Given that Lewis was in Nicos “dirty air” ( sounds gross)- attacking -it could be the straw that broke….given they had the same problem at the same time and track temps were touching 50.. I think Lewis does a tremendous job attacking/ backing off then attacking again but he surely had to pay a slightly heavier price for it..

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Lewis needs to get pole then I guess.

      I’m not entirely convinced they don’t know the cause. They do seem to keep dropping hints that it’s always possible there’s a chink in their armour. I do sometimes wonder if Merc have got together and said, ‘look Vettel dominating didn’t do Red Bull any PR favours – let’s not fall into that trap and keep everyone watching with a battle at the front and don’t ever say we know what went wrong’ I don’t think they want to lose any 1-2 finishes obviously – but I think Toto understands PR better than the Red Bull office ever did.

      1. BRENT WILCOX says:

        I had wondered the same thing.. Complete dominance by one team doesn’t seem to be good for anyone, considering the drop in F1 interest. Is it possible they just turned off the MGU-K? #drama

      2. AuraF1 says:

        I don’t think they’d ever lose on purpose of course…

        But you see teams down the grid when anything goes wrong they all say, ‘we know exactly what the problem is and we’re working to fix it and it will be sorted in 2-3 races…’ I suspect they are over-egging it, but at the other end of the spectrum Mercedes seem to keep saying, ‘well, Gee, shucks, I guess we can be beaten, we don’t even know what’s going on! The car is a mystery! I bet Red Bull could still win the championship – we’re all really, really, scared that they will!’ – I mean c’mon, there’s humility and then there’s just rubbing salt in the wound…;)

      3. Joe B says:

        A good friend of mine works for a components supplier that services most of the field, and he’s said that what Mercedes are doing this year from an engineering point of view is pretty far out there. With that in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t fully understand the cars yet, but these failures may help with that in the long run.

      4. kevin green says:

        What garbage you guys talk if your in the business of mass luxury car production and relying on sales to spin off your racing success the more 1-2s the better and absolutely no non finishes other than for crashes if possible!. But with modern tech one very doubtful possibility is if the cars were set up to fail (whether Nico’s was genuine or not) to advantage the obvious preferred of the 2 drivers where possible, Lets face it they have clearly certainly won both the drivers and constructors this yr other than for a fatal human occurrance/s.

      5. TimW says:

        He is doing a pretty good job of getting pole, don’t you think?

  3. kenneth chapman says:

    to be quite candid i am becoming totally sick of hearing all this ‘hoo har’ about rosberg/hamilton. does anyone really care about their relationships either in or out of F1? yes, they are providing action up front but it is fast becoming boring, like tyres were last year.

    surely there are more interesting topics to engage us than this. i suspect that there is a level of fakery just to ensure front page billing. c’mon chaps, let’s move on to other issues.

    1. chris green says:

      i agree kenneth. – toto said ‘ What we see, what the media see, is a show.’ what i’m fed up with is the ‘corporate speak’. merc have the policy that the leading driver gets the pitstop priority. under this regime the drivers aren’t really racing. the second drivers race is usually compromised especially with only one tactician,

      this year is probably the worst in f1 history in the way that the racing is micro managed from the pitwall. it’s a classic corporate approach. it’s the mercedes way. i’m over it.

      i’m not surprised that newey has had enough. colin chapman reached the same conclusion after the lotus 88 was banned. the really creative people in f1 are being stifled.

      bring back the real racers.

      1. David in Sydney says:

        The way to solve this is to cut pit-to-car and car-to-pit communication save radio chatter… make the teams and drivers communicate to each other instead of stare at computer screens and it’ll introduce a natural (and fair) variability and enhance driver involvement in the races…

    2. Random 79 says:

      It might be boring right now, but keep in mind that first of all they are the big story this year – they are the only two contending for the title, they are team-mates, and before the year is done we’re going to see some great fights as one or the other gets more and more desperate to clinch it.

      Second, because of that it could be that in twenty years time they talk about 2014 as being one of those great championship rivalries. I don’t expect you to jump and down every time one of them sneezes and sure it looks easy because they have a dominant car, but maybe there’s a bit more going on then you give them credit for.

      1. Phil Glass says:

        very true, and also bear in mind that if all is quiet and cuddly and co-operative there won’t be any more visits from Tabatha.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Very good point Phil :)

      3. kenneth chapman says:

        @ chris green….you have raised those very issues that i find dominating the season. yes, they are both out there in front duking it out but i think that there are other stories to be told that are not so obvious but equally interesting.

        i think that there is a lot of interest in exploring the newey dialogue further as he is talking about the very essence of F1 and where it is all headed. there are loads of issues that we should all e concerned with. i for one see the expansion of WEC as a templte for where F1 should be headed. they like to label F1 as the ‘pinnacle’ of motorsport, well i don’t think that they can maintain this chimera much longer> LMP1 is showing the world where motorsport should be headed. it is far more suited to ‘trickle down’ technology as well as providing fantastic racing.

        F1 is simply too restrictive on the talents that are available and the rule books are growing larger by the day. there is a penalty for everything now and drivers are simply not game to really race as they are concerned at getting penalised for minor infringements. racing has always had at its core an element of excitement when it comes to wheel to wheel. we rarely see it these days but when we do…wow! that’s how it should be.

        i really couldn’t care less to know that a driver considers the locality of his youthful years was in an area of deprivation and therefore he is better motivated to win at all costs. so what?

        yes, we like ou drivers to be colourful characters but let’s keep it all in perspective. i expect a lot of people will have issue with this attitude and that is fair enough, after all it is simply my opinion and as we all know, a sample of one is worth diddly squat.

      4. Thompson says:

        @Kenneth Chapman – who begs you to keep up with all the tittil tatitle, the gossip, the unrelated drama.

        Who twists your arm and forces you to come to JAF1…?

        Admit it, you luv it………

      5. kenneth chapman says:

        @ thompson ….hahaha i see that your are trying a little bit of provocation here. the so called ‘tittle-tattle’ is very hard to avoid, is it not? there are some people that actually live and thrive on minutiae and there are others that really prefer the main game. i fall into the latter category.

        the fact that the great man has diamond studs/ugly dogs/a blood red jet/strums a guitar badly and was raised in lowlife environment really says what exactly? do you find it illuminating and refreshing? it’s a bit like horner squiring around some has been popstar.

        as to having my arm twisted to come on here and post, what can i say? i post here because i enjoy debating some of the more interesting and thought provoking issues to do with F1. i have been involved in motorsport as a very very minor competitor in my youth, to go on and have a lifetime interest spanning some 60 years. this site has some intelligent and likeable posters, unlike most sites, that is mostly why i come here. i can only presume that you do likewise.

        as for F1, well i have some very strong issues there and hopefully we will see some changes but i will not be holding my breath for them to arrive.

      6. David in Sydney says:

        I don’t understand how anyone can say this year is boring. It’s F1. The best car is winning until it stumbles. The second and third cars are being pushed relentlessly to beat the best car.

      7. Steve S says:

        This is the first time since 2004 that the best car has had such a large edge on the competition. And 2004 is widely regarded as having been a boring season.

      8. Voodoopunk says:

        “I don’t understand how anyone can say this year is boring.”

        They’re saying it because it’s boring.

    3. AuraF1 says:

      The problem is fans often complain the drivers are too remote and there’s no ‘characters’ in F1 any more. Ask many fan forums (especially the mass casual viewership) and they’ll mention Senna versus Prost as the peak sort of human drama. Whether we like it or not the media sees this and when it looks like they’re might be even a hint of a teammate war to the championship – it’s going to get mass coverage. For most people the almost soap opera human dynamics are as interesting as the racing (you may not be like that but that’s the way majority audiences tend to go).

      So, yes there are fans who are getting bored of Lewis vs Nico and it being analysed and dissected – but look at the comment levels on James site alone (and this isn’t a ‘tabloid’ style outlet) and the stories about these two get a lot more comments and traffic.

      To be honest if you’re bored with it you would be best commenting on other articles and eventually the media might register the protest. I personally think its a losing battle as most people want a classic rivalry like Senna/Prost in their own modern F1. We can argue that Hamilton/Rosberg is never going to be that dramatic but it does appeal to (most) human natures to be intrigued and want more.

      1. Steve S says:

        “most people want a classic rivalry like Senna/Prost in their own modern F1.”

        I suppose they do. But Rosberg and Hamilton are not Senna and Prost. The only similarity between this year and 1988 is that both years featured incredibly dominant cars. If Button and KMag were driving the W05 they’d be fighting one another for the WDC, but that would not make them Senna vs Prost.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        Like I said in my first post above, we can all argue that NOBODY will ever be Senna vs Prost, but a lot of fans pine for it, the media wants to encourage it and there’s something in human nature that longs for the drama.

        Look at how many boxing matches get promoted as the biggest rivalry since the Rumble in the Jungle? Of course it probably isn’t but I think it’s a bit of a lost cause complaining about it. Hamilton vs Rosberg is the best intrateam match up we’ve had for a few years – especially when there’s no real outside competition. So it’s inevitable it will be written about ad nauseam.

        I understood the frustration the initial poster showed but I don’t think saying, ‘I’m bored of Hamilton and Rosberg’s story’ is going to do anything.

      3. Robb says:

        I think you’re right. Some people like the added dimension of the human drama (soap opera), and some people are only interested in what’s happening on track. The thing is, the people who claim to not be interested in the soap opera seem to continue to click on articles about it, and then take the time to post their thoughts about how uninterested in it they are. Funny.

    4. littleredkelpie says:

      Agreed … the way Hamilton is carrying on post Monaco, I am expecting them to announce their engagement any day now. It is laughable. We’re not friends .. we are friends .. we’ve always been friends … here’s some unicycling holiday snaps to prove we’re friends … watch me lean on Nico’s shoulder during an interview to prove how chummy we are ..ooops, maybe not that chummy ..

      who is advising this goose?

      1. David in Sydney says:

        “Who is advising this goose?”

        Exactly what I’m thinking. Hasn’t Mercedes realised yet that having the drivers fight their own battles and wear their hearts on their sleeves is working better than what people suspect Ferrari does?

      2. Antoniobaille says:

        He is being advised by Simon Fuller
        The same guy that advised the spice girls, David and Victoria Beckham etc. etc.
        What more do you expect when race drivers are being managed by media hungry Henry’s .

    5. TGS says:

      I totally agree. A past his prime Schumacher matched it with Rosberg and Button scored more points than Hamilton while they were both at McLaren. This Mercedes rivalry is boring and Hamilton and Rosberg are both dull in the extreme. More articles on Ricciardo please.

      1. Gazza says:

        “A past his prime Schumacher matched it with Rosberg”

        Qualifying
        Faster qualifying time: Rosberg 41 / Schumacher 17
        Poles: Rosberg 1 / Schumacher 
0
        Front rows: Rosberg 2 / Schumacher 1
        Races
        Wins: Rosberg 1 / Schumacher 0
        Podiums: Rosberg 5 / Schumacher 1
        Points finishes: Rosberg 39 / Schumacher 31
        DNFs: Rosberg 7 / Schumacher 15
        Best race result (inc DNFs): Rosberg 35 / Schumacher 22
        Ahead in two-car finish: Rosberg 22 / Schumacher 15
        Championship
        Overall points: Rosberg 324 / Schumacher 197
        Seasons finished higher in standings: Rosberg 3 / Schumacher 0
        Highest championship placing: Rosberg 7th (2010, 2011) / Schumacher 8th (2011)

        Really????

        Maybe because it was because Schumacher didn’t know how to look after his car like Rosberg, or does that only apply to Hamilton.?

    6. aveli says:

      but you have just engaged yourself in that same “hoo har”. the great engineer that you are.

      1. aveli says:

        i wonder why abs was invented.

    7. Michael in Sydney says:

      I totally agree – this petty issue is just that and gets far too much media coverage. But in all media there is that standard mantra:

      “If it bleeds. it leads”…

      James, please start delivering us interesting issues that cover the whole field of drivers and teams. I’ve stopped reading the F1 site because of it’s vanilla approach, sameness and bias. Please don’t make the same mistake. Personally, I think that driver’s dummy spits and intra-team rifts do nothing but make the sport, teams and drivers look really bad.

      Given the “role model” point of view, these sorts of drivers – and I choose to exclude Rosberg here – need a good kick up the you-know-what given all the young kids watching around the world.

      1. James Allen says:

        We cover all aspects of F1 here – business, technical, politics, racing, testing… and personalities.

        Nothing has changed in that approach over the last few years.

      2. Michael in Sydney says:

        Thanks James. And I do stipulate that I have only recently stopped avidly following F1 and have started looking at your site every day for around about a month.

        Nonetheless, I do feel my statement accurate – over that time period. Perhaps, my lament is that politics is such an important dynamic of F1.

        I am glad to hear of your dedication to objectivity and breadth and look forward to it.

        BTW – Hooray for Michael Schumacher!!!

  4. Kenneth M'boy says:

    When I saw both of those photos of Lewis and Nico together, straight away I thought of Miami Vice. What a couple of action stars, they should get their own TV series where they chase crooks like The Angry Spaniard, The Cheshire Aussie and The Drunken Finn in their souped up Mercedes Benz through the streets of downtown Florida. Crockett and Tubbs meet Blondie and Sparkles.

    1. Dick Cheese says:

      Classic! Really made me laugh!

    2. KRB says:

      Haha, good one. Y’mean Britney and Sparkles, no?

      And Vettel doesn’t get a villain mention? I would’ve thought Finger Boy was too easy.

    3. warley says:

      The drunken fin? Slanderous! And no mention of Lord Fauntleroy of Froome.

      1. Kenneth M'boy says:

        Isn’t he a hired gun for Woking Mob boss, Ronnie Biggs?

      2. James says:

        I agree. Already chased away young Perez.While all stuff’s going down, no one’s watching out for the Big Bad Button.

  5. F Zero says:

    I love the way Toto Wolff actually answers questions when he’s asked them.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Agreed.

  6. Random 79 says:

    Good interview – It’s refreshing to hear some straight talking honest answers for a change.

    The drivers and their PR managers should take a few notes…

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Couldn’t agree more………..straight talking honest answers? Toto must have been in Yorkshire for a few weeks. “Answer t’bloody question lad………………”
      Slightly off topic, but is it just me or does Mr Wolff in that photo above look a bit like Ed Milliband? Maybe not exactly like him, but certainly Toto looks likes the UK Labour leader’s Uncle or something! There is a bit of an uncanny resemblance…………

  7. AuraF1 says:

    That’s not a lot of praise for Nico. I think for anyone looking for anti Hamilton tendencies at Mercedes they may not find them.

    1. KRB says:

      It’s hard to read, for sure. I suppose the “acting arrogant in front of the media” jibe was directed at Hamilton. On another site, the site author is convinced that Wolff is pro-Nico, while Niki is pro-Lewis. I actually felt the opposite. I guess when Niki came out with all the “Lewis is unbeatable” stuff, that was ‘case closed’ for others. I just always thought that Niki saw himself more in Nico, with his staunch belief that hard work can overcome natural talent. Niki this week said that “Nico drove like a god” in Canada.

      So it’s anybody’s guess, I’d say. I would think it’d be easier for Nico to get over losing to Lewis, than the other way ’round. But if Lewis has a bunch of DNFs, then he would point to those as the differentiator. Still wouldn’t soften the blow of losing to Nico though.

      1. AuraF1 says:

        I just wondered if the interview had been edited at all – it just seems that when you call one driver a genius and the other needs structure, you aren’t really giving them equal billing (I’m not saying whether they deserve equal billing or not!) I know that Nico might smart a little bit at that minimal description of him though.

        But it was a bit like the pre-season statement from Ron Dennis that everyone jumped on where he praised K-Mag and ‘damned’ Button with faint praise about him being loyal etc. Though it turned out the response was edited and Dennis had said Button was a fantastic driver and he had massive respect for him.

        I think Niki Lauda, for all his bluster, is probably just happy to see them race and win a lot. He’s dismissed Hamilton as dangerous and immature in the past but changed his tune a lot now he’s working with him. Trying to find bias in Lauda is purely guess work anyway – he seems very pragmatic about who did what that weekend and doesn’t want any other s**t the rest of the time!

      2. kevin green says:

        Button wont be there after this season that was one of Whitmarshes genius ideas taking him in, Do not get me wrong Jenson is a good driver but in reality put them all in like for like cars you would find Jenson fairing top 8-12 at very best Certainly not good enough as a Mclaren No1 or be it No2 with the strides forward Mclaren badly need come the start of next season.. Dennis will want him out asap on securing any of the top drivers. I feel Alonso will be there at the seasons start most probably alongside Hulkenberg quite easy to imagine a whole list of other likely possibilities.

    2. Gudien says:

      Perhaps Nico Rosberg doesn’t need to be constantly told how great he is. Self confidence?

      If Lewis Hamilton is indeed unbeatable and a genius why is his teammate beating him?

      1. PhilipB says:

        Do 2 DNFs for mechanicals answer your question?

      2. Gazza says:

        Do you really need this explained.?

        Sure the points show Rosberg ahead, but if you look into the results Rosberg has only won Monaco when both cars have finished the race. In both Australia and Canada without the car expiring Hamilton looked the favourite to win

        I,m sure we will here a load of theories about Lewis being hard on the car which is why Nico has less DNF,s but that a load of BS. Nico had more DNF,s last year, its just the luck of the draw.

      3. Steve S says:

        If the reports I’ve seen that Hamilton was running with more rear brake bias than Rosberg in Montreal are correct then it’s partly due to different driving styles. Perhaps if Lewis was using the same bake setup as Nico he’d not have retired.

        Still, I agree that Hamilton has driven very well this season and has been rather unlucky. I do find it amusing that the same Hamilton fans who are so eagle-eyed at noticing car problems in car 44 are generally the same people insisting that Ricciardo is beating the pants off Vettel!

      4. David in Sydney says:

        HAM has been closeted by McLaren for a decade (or more?). He can drive, yes, just like Beiber can perform, but somehow he’s been spoilt along the way.

      5. kevin green says:

        Are you actually into F1 and bother follwing the actuall races as they develop or do you just check the results and then come and blow wind on here?? do you understand what it means if you have 2 constantly capable 1-2 finish cars all season long and one of the cars/drivers suffers 2xdnf and the other car/driver 0xdnf????? if dnf confuses you google F1 dnf ) oh and by the way I’m far from a Hamilton fan i detest the arrogant little cough splutter. Theres clearly very little between the 2 driver wise but if anything Hamilton certainly does have a slight edge very slight! good to see him failing though and no doubt peessing everyone off inhouse to the point he will not be welcome come the seasons end/running through 2015 of which i doubt he will be there still.

      6. kenneth chapman says:

        @ gudien….. that is a question i have asked as well. if hamilton is as good as some people believe the why hadn’t he put a pass on rosberg before his brakes etc went phut? i guess it was because he couldn’t. if he could then why did he sit in rosberg’s hot exhaust and cop all that damage that it does to his car?

        i expect all the HFB’s to cry foul now but surely it is a valid point to question. it’s my guess that they will all come back with ‘it’s the strategy. dummy’ or some such. let’s wait and see.

      7. Elie says:

        Perhaps you forgot about the fact that Hamilton was glued to his gearbox just before Nico went off the circuit. Otherwise guaranteed the pass was there on the exit of that chicane..

      8. C63 says:

        @KC
        it’s my guess that they will all come back ….

        Oops, guessed wrong. Perhaps a smaller hook, or maybe a thinner line next time and you might get a few more bites ;-)

      9. kenneth chapman says:

        @ elie, there is no way that you can say that hamilton was ‘guaranteed’ anything despite you wishing that it was. the fact remains that hamilton sat on the back of rosberg’s car for, what, 25 laps? why didn’t he put a pass on rosberg earlier? as i said, IMO, the great man couldn’t. if his brakes etc were cooked as a result or the close running which contributed to his breakdown then it was partially his fault for running so long in dirty air.

        wolff did say that they were running a revised, smaller, more compact cooling system and that was a contributor to the problems that both drivers had. that being the case then hamilton’s inability to get the pass done was an ‘own goal’.

      10. kenneth chapman says:

        @C63 hahaha good one. that said, got a few nibbles but the ‘big fish’ stayed away, probably realising that there was no comeback to reality.

  8. goferet says:

    I think Wolff and Lauda are the Trojan horse considering they’re the Austrian bosses at Mercedes who are beating the Austrian team in Red Bull.

    It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Wolff and Lauda will get at the home land especially if the team is successful next weekend.

    Yes, the moral of the story is to beat the competition, you need a Trojan horse.

    1. Random 79 says:

      A Trojan horse powered by a Mercedes 1.6 Turbo Hybrid? ;)

      1. goferet says:

        @ Random 79

        Somehow that doesn’t seem right.

        There’s nothing hybrid about horse power.

      2. Random 79 says:

        You might be right.

      3. Elie says:

        It is Hybrid when you consider
        A) it wasnt a real horse
        B) it had 50 spartans inside
        C) it was created to fool its fan base into a peace offering when rather than being a disaster unto all

        History reliving itself in F1 OMG we’re all doomed!

      4. Random 79 says:

        I take it back – Elie’s right ;)

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      I don’t think anyone really sees Red Bull as an Austrian team.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Andrew Carter

        I believe the good people of Austria would disagree.

      2. kevin green says:

        Other than for there title names i class them all as UK teams other than for Ferrari and Sauber that’s the reality of it!

      3. jhynesadmin says:

        And Toro Rosso?

      4. kevin green says:

        Good spy 10 points!

      5. Random 79 says:

        I don’t, but I wonder if people in Austria do?

      6. Gaz Boy says:

        The hills are alive with the sound of……………cans of a certain energy drink opening?

  9. SPyros says:

    One of the best F1 interviews I’ve read all year.

  10. CHEESYPOOF says:

    If this is the entire interview it sure sounds like he doesn’t regard Rosberg’s driving much having called Hamilton a genius… surprising.

    1. kevin green says:

      They will just be picking there words carefully incase they upset the wingy kid Rosberg will fully know well as long as the constructors is bolted down as far as the drivers goes they will far rather try to manipulate him into 1st place where discreetly possible mark my words! German long term team payer/driver new team mate who has already upset the apple cart peesing most off at the team by public outcry winging etc against his team mate and his team to a cetain extent.

  11. Jim says:

    It sounds like Mr Wolff has a very realistic understanding of what motivates drivers! Refreshing to hear this instead of standard PR platitudes.

    As an aside, why is the karting picture reversed?

  12. Richard says:

    Can’t believe he said “They don’t give a shit”, when is the last time we heard a Team Principal say that?

    1. James Allen says:

      Lauda says it all the time!

      1. Random 79 says:

        Yes, but they don’t make them like they used to…although having said that would I be right in saying that Lauda has had an influence on Wolff?

        If so I’d say that’s a good thing.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        I reckon Mr Wolff is a closet Yorkshireman……………….trust me, having been to God’s Country, the Yorkies give you a very direct response to any question you ask them.
        Think John Prescott, Jeremy Clarkson, Brian Blessed, Geoffrey Boycott, Freddie Trueman………….Toto Wolff?

      3. David in Sydney says:

        Austrians and Australians (and New Zealanders) are similar. They don’t mince their words. A lot of people confuse being Austrian with being German. Don’t make that mistake.

      4. kenneth chapman says:

        hahahaha i like lauda, very much what you see is what you get.

  13. Darth_patate says:

    I didn’t like Toto at first as he sounded like a stand up comedian doing en impression of arnold schwarzenneger but I must admits he is doing something good by actually giving mostly straight answers.

    Niki lauda is also often speaking his mind (although he has an impressive track record of BS-any F1 historian can dig up his predictions before he joined mercedes ?? that woul be fun)

    and Paddy low is not too bad either. on track, Mercedes dominance is “much worse” than Red bull was in 2013 and 2011 but the fact they seem to give Nico and Lewis a chance to fight and the way they talk to the media is sooooo much better

    (Red bull is much less annoying this year, losing does good to them. Credits to seb for congratulating gracefully Dan at montreal)

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I just want Toto to respond to a question with ‘Hasta La Vista…Baby’ just once. Please.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be back…

    2. warley says:

      Toto sounds like Lauda might if they sent Lauda to ‘charm school’ – a sort of more eloquent version of Niki !

    3. Steve S says:

      Nico and Lewis have a chance to fight one another for the title largely BECAUSE the Mercedes dominance is “much worse” than that at Red Bull in recent years. At this same point in 2013, four different drivers from four different teams had won races. How can you claim that this season to date is “much better”?

  14. iceman says:

    That picture is a nice reminder of one of the reasons why digital photography is so great: we can’t accidentally put the slide in back to front any more!

  15. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    Good interview, nice one.

    Does it really matter though if they did have a race or two where they clashed and either or both retired? Keeps it more interesting up front for us as well seeing as the other teams and engine manufacturers didn’t really ‘turn up’ this year.

    It’s not like say 2007 where the nearest challenger is close. Nor is any team likely to suddenly improve their engine to match Merc considering the efforts required and the lockdown rules.

    They have no pressure, the championships are in the bag and it’d probably be worse for the Merc image if they were to bring in any team orders whatsoever. They don’t need the problems seen at a dominant Ferrari with Schuey and Rubens in Austria or at Indy.

    Let them race, let them clash, team orders would be a disaster for the sport, the team and for 2015.

    The joke though will be if one of them retires at Abu Dhabi and the other takes the 50 points in one race…

  16. Gujerati says:

    Great to hear straight answers from Toto rather than others who constant dance around the issues (e.g. Christian Horner). In a sense, F1 is a brutal world – every time your team mate beats you then your stock is hurt, there’s no getting around that.

  17. Krischar says:

    Toto seems like the right man to lead the team in near future. He has the ability to manage the complex personalities within the team and is direct with media

    I had the doubts when MB recruited toto, however with 1/3 season already done he has managed the team very well and also kept the conflict interest alive as well

    2015 will be interesting though if any teams can catch up with MB and next season. We will see then how toto manages the team with closer competition and extra pressure

  18. Brian says:

    The success that the entire Merecedes team is experiencing this year is fantastic to watch. Personally, I always wanted Schumacher to get in on some of that winning when he was with Merecedes, but it’s great to see all the success of Nico and Lewis. That said, it’s even better when it is Nico who is getting his just desserts by grabbing wins and podiums. I believe he has been just under the radar for far too long and though Lewis’ driving talents cannot be disputed by anyone, he has already been a champion. Sometimes Lewis’ emotions get the better of him and he succeeds in making himself look bad. But to his credit, he comes back the next week and says and does all the right things. This makes look him look human and more likable just when he needs it the most. F1 would be less without Lewis Hamilton.

    Nico is finally and consistently showing his worth as a driver. If Toto says Hamilton is a driving genius, then so must be Nico Rosberg. He has not put a foot wrong in 2014. It’s all about having the equipment that is competitive. Get a F1 pilot comfortable in a competitive car and you will be rewarded with victories and championships. It is Nico’s time to shine and he is taking the opportunity.

    A super Merecedes car means tense times for Nico and Lewis and also means great racing for F1. Who comes out on top? The only certain answer is the fans! And never forget that the others ceratinly aren’t giving up just yet…

  19. Brian says:

    The success that the entire Merecedes team is experiencing this year is fantastic to watch. Personally, I always wanted Schumacher to get in on some of that winning when he was with Merecedes, but it’s great to see all the success of Nico and Lewis. That said, it’s even better when it is Nico who is getting his just desserts by grabbing wins and podiums. I believe he has been just under the radar for far too long and though Lewis’ driving talents cannot be disputed by anyone, he has already been a champion. Sometimes Lewis’ emotions get the better of him and he succeeds in making himself look bad. But to his credit, he comes back the next week and says and does all the right things. This makes look him look human and more likable just when he needs it the most. F1 would be less without Lewis Hamilton.

    Nico is finally and consistently showing his worth as a driver. If Toto says Hamilton is a driving genius, then so must be Nico Rosberg. He has not put a foot wrong in 2014. It’s all about having the equipment that is competitive. Get a F1 pilot comfortable in a competitive car and you will be rewarded with victories and championships. It is Nico’s time to shine and he is taking the opportunity.

    A super Merecedes car means tense times for Nico and Lewis and also means great racing for F1. Who comes out on top? The only certain answer is the fans! And never forget that the others aren’t giving up just yet…

  20. Drgraham lewis says:

    I appreciate all the pro Nico comments and the fact that Toto has been sort of straight with his comments. It would hard to be different in all honesty. But for all the anti LH technical types – NR has yet to actually win a head to head battle with LH this year despite the points lead. Not a single one.

    That is what racing is all about fundamentally and just like Kimi years ago, I really do believe it would be terribly sad if yet again someone who wins most races/poles ends up without a championship because of technical DNFs. I understand Mercedes are trying to keep the media spotlight on their marketing spot as there is a risk of them losing coverage because ‘its boring’ which it is not and It may please the Prost type lovers but cut throat racing it is not. At the end of the day – look at the achievements of each of them. Yes NR has raised his game. But not without years under the master and an instruction book in ‘how to drive faster’ each and every weekend. Is anyone giving LH a similar book or instruction? No of course not because its his instinct and he is naturally the better racer.

    Look at motogp in 2005/6 when with the least number of wins (2) and the lowest score in history Nicky Haydon won despite Rossi clawing back a ridiculous number of points in the latter rounds and winning half the races? Truth is it made great viewing but pretty much ruined the credibility of the championship. Its still argued today.

    I am not suggesting the same here and Nicki H always races with maximum effort and is was great to watch but his success was always mired with the reality. The bike won it not the rider.

    If Nico wants credibility and regardless of the ridiculous comments such as ‘LH already has a championship’ then he needs to win races against Hamilton through factors other than luck, instruction, a team approach not focused on sharing and most importantly DNF and technical failures or he will either be a repeat of his father or another Nicki Haydon – someone that the machinery won for him.

    As for LH – well if he does win he can be the only champion other than possibly Fangio that did so while dragging a team mate along with him and helping him along the way…

    No others in recent generations have had the guts to do such hence my comments.

    1. David in Sydney says:

      Agree that without the two reliability hiccups HAM would be leading ROS by a comfortable margin. Speed is speed but points is points… and ROS is winning… so far.

    2. flesh says:

      @Dragaham lewis what a good post I completely agree with everything you have said.

    3. Elie says:

      Spot on mate!

  21. AlexD says:

    I think it is already….a bit too much of Hamilton-Rosberg friendship discussions. How much more one can squeeze of this story?

    Just checking….I know that you, James, are trying to fix the problems with people not getting notification when comments are being posted….I still do not get it despite the change that was made as you mentioned.

  22. kevin green says:

    Well with Hamilton no doubt blowing his mouth off again over the last few weeks i think he would have found a kick in the stones reality check that if it was realistically possible for either of them to be world champion on any given yr it would be the long term team servant not to mention German team mate Nico do not be surprised to see Hamilton to be back at Mclaren or even off to Ferrari or Redbull for the start of next season BUT certainly do not expect to see him at Mercedes behond the end of next season as he sinply will not be there, Who knows what kind of shape will Williams Force India or the American team be in come then??? as for any of the rest i doubt they will be much better yet alone still in F1 in there current status as such.

  23. Thompson says:

    I have to admit I thought Brawns departure would be the downfall of Mercedes.

    Did not give Toto and paddy much ‘respect’- but they’re doing a solid job all be it with the team and infrastructure Brawn built and a fast car with 2 good drivers……. But a solid job still.

  24. Elie says:

    One thing I want to add is that despite the straight talking and admirable words of Totto we must never forget this is Mercedes Benz and even if Lewis is over reacting I would suggest that a driver in a team would see alot more subtle things that make him feel disadvantaged than we would here..The motivation is for Mercedes to continue to keep things “even” and make themselves the good guys in the press as well meeping both drivers happy. Whereas the reality is without every subtle advantage- Nico would not be able to go toe to toe with Lewis. Bahrain proved that to me without a shadow of a doubt. Good luck to Nico for garnering that support from the team, and as usual Lewis’s heart on sleave approach makes him far more succeptible to a pragmatic team approach..

    I wont rule out Nico winning the championship but that would be a travesty because Lewis is driving impeccably and but for tech failures he would already be many points ahead. He is by far a faster racer than Nico ever will be.

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