Toto Wolff has admitted his dismissive comments towards Max Verstappen’s new win record came down to his attitude towards statistics, shaped by Niki Lauda.
With Max Verstappen setting a new F1 record last time out in Italy, with the Dutch driver winning a 10th consecutive Grand Prix to snatch the record away from Red Bull predecessor Sebastian Vettel, Toto Wolff drew some criticism for making dismissive comments towards the World Champion’s achievement.
Fresh from Verstappen taking the win and the record, Wolff said that the statistic was only relevant “for Wikipedia” – the Austrian failing to pass on proper congratulations or tip his hat to the achievement of the team’s rival.
Toto Wolff explains attitude towards F1 statistics
With Wolff’s comments meeting with derision on social media, Verstappen himself responded earlier this week by saying that Wolff was likely “pi**sed off” with his own team’s “s**t performance” at Monza.
With Mercedes failing to win a race this year and having only won one since the beginning of the ground effect era last year, it’s Verstappen and Red Bull who have been the dominant force in the sport ever since toppling Mercedes in 2021.
Asked whether he had any regrets for saying what he did about Verstappen, particularly as Lewis Hamilton himself chases an F1 record by winning an eighth Drivers’ World Championship title, the Mercedes team boss admitted he hadn’t had his most intelligent moment.
Speaking in the team’s press conference on Friday, Wolff said he generally didn’t pay attention to F1 records or statistics.
“Well, obviously when you look at the comment in the circumstance, you can think ‘Was it the most intelligent thing I could’ve said?’ Maybe not,” he said.
Wolff explained that his flippant mindset towards records had come from the influence of former Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, the three-time F1 World Champion who had worked closely alongside Wolff at Mercedes between 2013 and ’18.
“It’s always been my mindset, it’s something I’ve taken from Niki,” he said. “Niki gave his trophies away to get a free car wash!
“You won’t find a lot of memorabilia in my place either, because numbers never mattered for the two of us.
“Formula 1 is a meritocracy and I said often during this year, that only the best win World Championships and you need to recognise what a great job is being done there.
“And at the end, they will take another big trophy and that is something that is the most valuable. The best person in the best car wins the World Championship.”