Q&A with Toto Wolff
Toto, obviously the last couple of years some records that pushed the boundaries a bit beyond where they have been before. But nothing lasts forever, as I’m sure Christian [Horner] will tell you. How nervous do you feel and do you think you have enough this year to hold everyone at bay?
Toto Wolff: You have to stay on your toes, that’s clear. You can be caught out quickly, either by regulations or just by not taking the right decisions and we’ve seen that over the last couple of years. There is a constant skepticism whether we have done a good enough job over the winter and we’re going to know more tomorrow.
Mercedes has some young drivers coming through the system – Pascal Wehrlein racing here with Manor, Esteban Ocon coming through and seconded to Renault as a reserve. Will we see more of this sort of development of drivers coming through from Mercedes in the next couple of years?
TW: I think it’s a good development. In the past it was only Red Bull holding up young drivers and transitioning them into Formula One on merit and now with Renault coming in and having Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen being back in a car, Pascal Wehrlein in a Manor and an additional team which has financial resource, I think it’s good news and hopefully we will see more good young people come into Formula One based on merit. For us certainly it’s about finding the right places. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to start an inflationary system and just enter many young kids if you don't have a place in Formula One. With Esteban and Renault I think we found a good solution for our mutual benefit. Equally with Pascal, a completely different challenge for him this year than last and we’ll see how that pans out.
Last month the Commercial Rights Holder was quoted as saying “this sort of thing is what is commonly known as a cartel and cartels are illegal. We are running something that is illegal.On top of all that it is anti-competitive.” Given the EU laws etcetera and also the complaint that’s also recently been filed, is Formula One really being run as a cartel? How do you feel about this comment? Any comeback on that?
TW: It’s nice to start all over again. First of all, when you’re looking at today’s press conference, there’s a lot of positivity around what’s happening. Red Bull has bought Aston Martin back into the sport, a mega-brand. Renault is back as an official works team, Haas has entered the sport, an American team. But having said that, I don’t think there is any cartel around here, nor is the sport run as a cartel. Bernie is always good for controversy and throwing one in. If that were to run like a cartel we wouldn’t be sitting here. Some of us are part of multi-national global companies and we’re taking compliance very seriously. So… it just causes headlines but nothing else.
Do you have any words of advice for Gene [Haas]?
TW: I think Gene doesn’t need any advice. He has done it very successfully in NASCAR and much more successful than all of us with his own company. If there is advice in Formula One it’s to manage expectations – because pressure is going to increase the better the results are and, the way you’ve been doing it, keeping both feet on the ground and staying humble, I think this is the right approach.