Mercedes have revealed that Toto Wolff should “absolutely” be back in the paddock in Austin next weekend, after missing the last two races.
The Mercedes team principal and CEO has been recovering following knee surgery and was absent from the paddock in Japan and Qatar, with his duties being split among several high-ranking figures at the team.
One of them is communications director Bradley Lord, who revealed the extent of his involvement even from the sidelines – with the Mercedes boss having a garage-style setup at home, so he could complete the ultimate Formula 1 work-from-home shift.
Toto Wolff to return in Austin, but kept a hands-on approach from afar in Qatar
After the first-lap crash between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in Qatar last time out, Wolff was heard on Russell’s team radio trying to motivate his driver, doing so remotely as the team went in search of a recovery.
When explaining Wolff’s whereabouts, communications head Lord explained after the race: “He’s in Monaco this weekend, because the doctors after his knee surgery before Japan had advised him not to jump in the plane, but just to rest his knee so that he’s fit and well for the last five races.
“He’s got exactly the setup that we have in the garages at home, so he’s able to follow in real time and participate in real time as well.”
While some may have looked to take things slightly easier after recovering from surgery, Lord revealed that Wolff has tried to remain as hands-on as possible in the races he has missed.
“He’s been in every meeting virtually, in all of the strategy discussions, and then debriefs as well,” he explained.
“So he’s not been physically here, but has been a strong presence in the team. So from that point of view, it’s run as normally as it can do when he’s not been able to travel, but he’s played his usual part in all of those discussions as well.”
Following the crash between the two Mercedes drivers last time out, there could have been frustration setting in, but Hamilton took the blame for the collision at Turn 1 and averted any post-race animosity by apologising to Russell.
When asked about Wolff’s response to the crash, Lord said his main focus was on trying to see what the team could do to help Russell’s recovery, with the former Williams driver eventually making his way all the way up to fourth come the chequered flag.
“He was involved in all the normal discussions, but the discussion then really focuses on ‘right, George is P19 or P18, where do we think we can get him back to and how are we going to do that?’” Lord said.
“At that stage, it was sort of P10, P9, maybe just get into a sniff of the points. So P4, and to actually outscore Ferrari by two points after the first lap we had is really a pretty strong comeback.
“And certainly by the end of the race, there was very much a feeling of what might have been, but nonetheless, that was a really solid recovery.”