Toto Wolff has admitted he constantly questions his own input at Mercedes, despite successfully implementing a no-blame culture within his team.
Mercedes is coming off the back of two tougher years in Formula 1, despite the Brackley-based squad finishing second in the Constructors’ Championship in 2023. Victories eluded Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, meaning the first winless year for Mercedes since 2011.
With Mercedes holding their hands up about heading down the wrong path with the concept for the W13/W14 as the ground-effect regulations were introduced for 2022, the atmosphere within the team remained harmonious – even through a change of technical leadership as James Allison and Mike Elliott swapped roles with Allison returning as technical director.
Toto Wolff: I question my contribution all the time
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has been candid in the past about ensuring a ‘no-blame’ culture exists within the team, but that doesn’t stop the Austrian from sometimes reflecting on his own involvement.
With Mercedes seeming no closer to toppling Red Bull than they were at the start of 2022, Wolff said it has been difficult sometimes not to point the finger at himself as he looks at things with a pessimistic view.
“It’s tough, because I keep hammering myself,” Wolff told select media, including PlanetF1.com, over the Abu Dhabi GP weekend.
“You could say this is a physics problem and not a mystics problem or not on, let’s say, an organisational topic.
“It’s more that we got the physics wrong – it’s science, mechanical engineering.
“I keep questioning myself, my contribution all the time, because I feel myself as the team, as do many others.
“So, in difficult times, you wake up in the morning and you think ‘What is it that I need to do?'”
Toto Wolff explains approach to instilling ‘no-blame culture’
Asked by PlanetF1.com whether it’s difficult to prevent a blame culture from setting in now that the team are on a rebuild path, rather than being perched at the top of the field, Wolff spoke of his pride in ensuring fingers don’t get pointed.
“No, because this is something we have been instilling in the organisation straight from 2013,” he said.
“We blame the problem and not the person. We are a safe environment, nobody got fired because of nonperformance. We always find solutions.
“If a department doesn’t perform, it’s my fault, because then I haven’t provided the right framework or wasn’t part of hiring the right people.
“It makes no sense to blame someone who’s not doing good enough, because everybody’s trying their best – at least, this is the mindset we have in the organisation.
“So, no-blame culture, we stuck to it, which I’m very proud of.”