Toto Wolff: “The rivalry is good for the team”

toto wolff interview

Let’s start with a general question. What did you think of what came out of last week’s F1 Strategy Group, some of the proposals that have been put forward for 2017?

TW: It was a good meeting in relation to the 2017 regs. We all agree that we want to reintroduce quicker cars, get the lap times down by five to six seconds. Make it more of a driver formula, maybe get rid of the electronic start procedures, go back to more conventional clutches. Refuelling was discussed, with many various opinions. But we all agreed that this is what should be happening, so it was good.

Toto, obviously Nico got some momentum into his championship with the win in Spain last time out. Lewis Hamilton said he’s very keen to take pole and win here after two years of being on the wrong side of things from Nico. How does the rivalry look from inside the team?

TW: The rivalry has always been intense on track and we’ve seen it from the start of the day. They were both out there in anger, pretty competitive lap times straight from the beginning. And it’s good for the team because it pushes the team, it pushes the two to new levels, competing against each other, so for Thursday, we can be pretty satisfied.

Obviously the news this weekend is the new contract with Lewis Hamilton. Why did you chose to announce that it is a three year term and are the values that are circulating around in the media vaguely accurate as to the value of the contract?

TW: You know the discussions around the contract have been out there for quite a while. We had the terms already a couple of weeks ago and declaring that it was a three year term seemed reasonable to us, in order to show that it’s a long term relationship and stability is important for us. On the figures out there, I can’t really comment. The only thing I can say is that there have been lots of nonsense out there as well. Lewis is one of the best racing drivers out there, maybe the best at the moment and he has a huge value for the brand and fundamentally this is what drives his value and this is a classical win-win situation for the team and for himself.

Just getting back to the previous question regarding the Strategy Group. Bearing in mind some of the comments that we’ve just heard, is it time now to disband that group because it’s had its day, it’s had its time, it’s had its opportunity and quite clearly it just isn’t working?

TW: This is a professional sport. It’s a global platform. It needs to have a proper governance. And I think if we wish for dictatorship, I can see us sitting here in two years and complaining that it’s going in the wrong direction. It is always tricky to find the right government. You vote for one government, you wish for the other one to rule, and the other way around.

The drivers are launching their own survey through the GPDA. How do you view that?

TW: I think that Alex was very innovative always and pushing this, and having the idea of a survey is a great thing. It’s going to give us additional input, maybe some interesting findings, that it’s not that easy to actually draw the right conclusions. But the drivers are the essential part of the show so for them to be involved and get engaged is a good thing.

There was no driving for 60 minutes in the second practice session because of the rain, this while many concerns are voiced about declining viewership and spectator numbers. Isn’t this a strange situation then?

TW: There is a risk of putting the car in the wall and that makes things complicated for the weekend. The forecast at the moment is much better than what we saw on Thursday afternoon. Maybe the real impact for spectators and fans starts Saturday.


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