Toto Wolff confirms change of approach as Mercedes boss over ‘break us’ fear

Thomas Maher
Toto Wolff, Mercedes, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff has explained that he has to tone down his direct method of communication, for fear of escalating internal pressures.

With Mercedes going through a tough period of rebuilding in the ground-effect regulations era, Toto Wolff has said he’s had to change his style of communicating with staff.

Toto Wolff: You just have to keep believing

Mercedes currently occupies fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, having scored 26 points in the three race weekends so far. With Aston Martin, a Mercedes customer, just a point behind and McLaren, another customer, 29 points ahead, it hasn’t been a hugely strong start to the season.

While the W15 appears to have plenty of potential, with the team having opted to set off in a new design direction for 2024, that potential is yet be fully unlocked as experimenting with setups – particularly on Lewis Hamilton’s side of the garage – has been the name of the game.

Wolff has been open about some of the trials and tribulations Mercedes are facing as they seek to figure out their new machine, and has said the team don’t yet fully understand some of the car’s behaviour.

Wolff also admitted he wants to “punch himself in the nose” over the W15’s erratic performance, but has said a rapid turnaround could be possible once the team hones in on the car’s sweet spot.

“If you do it right, you can herald a turnaround pretty quickly. You just have to keep believing,” he said.

But, while the struggles continues, Wolff has said the management approach he’s taken is one of patience and understanding – now is not the time to lash out in frustration or anger with individuals on the squad.

Wolff said his nature is to be very direct, but he’s reined it in for fear of “breaking” the team.

“As an Austrian, we very much wear our hearts on our sleeves. And we say things very directly,” he told media in Australia after his team came away scoreless in Melbourne after a mechanical failure on Hamilton’s car, and a crash for George Russell.

“An Austrian says ‘That’s really s**t’, and a British person would say ‘That’s interesting’.

“So I had to adapt the way I communicate in order to not create even more pressure in the team, because it would break us.

“It’s not because of a lack of trying that we are not competitive. So I’d rather be helpful and encouraging, and not say ‘That’s interesting’.”

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Toto Wolff expects experiments to continue

With Mercedes no closer to the front in Australia than they had been in the previous two races, Wolff said he expects setup experiments to continue until more performance is unlocked and the car is better understood.

“I think we are coming to a point now that we probably need to experiment every single race,” Wolff said.

“Not only on Friday, because our performance seems to get worse throughout the weekend.

“We’re good on Friday, then we are good on some of the sessions on Saturday, but the more grip we have, the faster it goes, the more we reach the performance ceiling of the car, and our data shows that it’s not the ceiling.”

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