Mercedes technical director James Allison has talked up team boss Toto Wolff’s influence on the team and hopes he sticks around.
The Austrian businessman took over the Silver Arrows ahead of the 2013 season, and the following year started Mercedes on their record-breaking journey of six consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ title doubles.
But there is speculation that he will walk away from his team principal role at the end of the year as he continues to weigh up the decision.
Allison explained what Wolff brings to the team and hopes he is still around for “many years to come”.
“I think none of us would for a moment underestimate the importance of Toto to this team,” he told Channel 4.
“He brings, and has brought a stability over many years and a challenge for all of us to aim for those absolute highest possible standards.
“And that standard never, ever relents in where it’s set, but it’s done with humour, fairness, and with a degree of kindness which makes the team an extremely enjoyable place to work.
“Internally he is a fantastic leader, externally he protects us from the shark pit that F1 can be sometimes.
“He has been, I’d say, one of the most important pillars of the success of this team and I hope he is with us for many years to come.”
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Initially six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who is out of contract at the end of the season, had said he would base his decision regarding a contract extension on whether or not Wolff stays.
But he has since changed his stance and says the team is about more than just Wolff.
“We’ve done so much already together in this period of time. I hope he stays because it’s fun working with him, and it’s fun negotiating with him and fun having the up and downs. So I’m truly grateful to Toto and I’ll be fully supportive in whatever he decides to do,” he told the F1 website.
“What you’ve got to remember is that it’s a team of so many people. There’s almost 2,000 people in the team, or something like that. It’s not just down to one person, one individual.
“So yes, that’s not determining whether or not I stay. I think what we’ve built… I’ve been a part of growing with this team and growing with that growth. The strength is there through and through, so as I said, it’s not just one individual. I think everyone has to do what’s best for them, what’s best for their career and happiness, at the end of the day.”