Toto Wolff reveals strategy change after U-turn on Mercedes retirement

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff on a balcony. Hungary July 2022.

Toto Wolff stands on a balcony during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend. Budapest July 2022.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff previously could not have imagined himself as Mercedes principal at 50, but now cannot foresee himself selling up.

The Austrian entrepreneur’s business interests in Formula 1 started out with Williams back in 2009, before he then bought into the Mercedes team in 2013.

Also becoming team principal at Mercedes, a role which he holds to the present day, Wolff is now a one-third owner of the team alongside the brand’s parent company Daimler and INEOS.

And if Wolff had have stuck to his previous policy, then by this point, he would have sold his shares in the Mercedes team.

Instead, after contemplating the decision back in 2020, Wolff decided to continue his commitment, and now he does not foresee an end date to this journey into uncharted territory.

“In 2020 there was a moment of reflection,” he told Motorsport.com. “My plan in a way was to finish at 49. The idea I had before was to do something else, I wouldn’t have imagined myself beyond 50 as team principal.

“But something in me has changed, in the past each of my projects was based on a clear guideline: buy shares in a company, develop it, and then sell the shares, and that was the plan when my adventure in Formula 1 began. But in 2020 I came to the conclusion that for the first time in my life I wanted to stay where I was, and I changed the strategy.

“In 2013 I signed a three-year contract, and it was a very good period, so I renewed for another three years and then another three years. In 2020 I had to decide what to do, go on indefinitely or get out. And I chose the first option.”

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So, that means we can expect Wolff, now at the age of 51, to continue as the Mercedes boss for many more years to come.

“Yes, this is what I do and this is my company,” he affirmed. “The ‘problem’ is that I can’t leave.

“I thought about other scenarios, even the possibility of moving to Thailand, changing my business, basically changing my life. But in the end, here I am, I’m in my company. I’m one of three shareholders and honestly I think I had a great opportunity to be where I am. It is important to remember that especially when there are ups and downs.”

And current times would definitely be classed as a down for Wolff at Mercedes, the team looking to rediscover the form which saw them win eight successive Constructors’ titles and seven Drivers’ crowns between 2014-2021.

Since 2021, Mercedes has tasted Grand Prix victory only once, with the team now part of a pack also involving Aston Martin and Ferrari that is looking to hunt down their former title rival Red Bull out front.