Wolff to join Mercedes but keep Williams stake

2013 F1 season

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Williams have confirmed executive director Toto Wolff has left the team to join one of its rivals.

Wolff is joining Mercedes as an exeuctive director and shareholder. He will give up his seat on Williams’ board of directors but retain his shareholding in the team.

“I am leaving Williams on good terms and I will miss the team and friends I have made there,” said Wolff. “I’d also like to wish Frank and the whole of Williams the best of luck for the future.”

Frank Williams said he understood Wolff’s move, commenting: “Positions such as the one offered to him by Mercedes do not come around often”.

He added his thanks for Wolff, who became the team’s executive director in July: “He was a key support to me as executive director last season, deputising at a number of races when I was unable to attend”.

“Toto has a long history with them and I certainly was not going to stand in the way of him accepting this once in a lifetime opportunity,” continued Williams.

“Toto will retain his shareholding in Williams and will always have a place at Grove but make no mistake; we will fight him hard on the racetrack.

“I am sure he will be a strong asset for Mercedes and on behalf of the whole team I would like to wish him the best of luck in his new role. I’m lucky to have a very professional group of people around me and the company’s executive committee will continue the work they have been doing to ensure a successful future for the business.”

Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said Wolff “has proven that this sport runs in his blood” but “is also well aware of the economic necessities of the business”.

“With Toto Wolff, we have gained for our Formula 1 team not only an experienced motorsport specialist, but also a longstanding enthusiast of the Mercedes-Benz brand,” he added.

“Together with him and Niki Lauda, we will further develop our motorsport activities and guide our Silver Arrows into the next era”

Wolff called Mercedes “one of the most important participants in motorsport worldwide” and described himself as a “big fan” of the brand.

“I am looking forward to the challenge and, along with preparing for a successful racing season, also want to focus on the targeted promotion of new talent.”

Mercedes also confirmed Lauda is now a shareholder in the team.

Toto Wolff is married to Susie Wolff who races for Mercedes in the DTM and is a test driver for Williams.

2013 F1 season

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Image © Williams/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on “Wolff to join Mercedes but keep Williams stake”

  1. so the rumor was true. It would be interesting a Mercedes director own Williams shares. It might be not a dream someday Williams uses Mercedes engine?

    1. I get the feeling those shares will sell off if Mercedes start winning …

      1. Why would Wolff sell off his shares in Williams simply because he moved to Mercedes? The fact that he could move shows that it isn’t a conflict of interests, and so long as the Williams share price remains strong, I see no reason why he would sell them.

  2. It could just help Williams get access to Mercedes engines in the future. There just seems to be so much change at Williams that it cannot help the team to settle and get back where most British fans would like to see them at the front of the grid. I’m old enough to remember them starting up in F1 and was there at Silverstone for their first win.

    I wonder if Susie Wolff (nee Stoddart) will keep her development role at Williams?

    1. Possibly, but currently Williams have a deal with Renault who are also a good supplier and whom have worked with Williams in the past, attaining much success as I’m sure you’ll know (of course the FW14B/15C ran Renault engines). So I don’t think a switch to Mercedes would be necessary for them although it is definitely a possibility.

  3. Now he just needs to send Williams all the crucial Mercedes data and watch his shares increase in value! :P

  4. So Mercedes management level,now has 4 “CEO” types: Brawn, Fry, lauda, and Wolff. Then they’ve got, what, 5 ex technical directors?

    If Mercedes are scratching their head about what problems the team has fighting at the front, I can give them a hint: lack of management probably isn’t it.

    Red bull have one person running the team, one person running the design of the car, and one person fiddling around on behalf of the owner. Maybe Mercedes should look at stealing away another team’s structure instead of their senior staff. Brawn were successful with one man in charge, after years of management by committee.

    1. Not sure what the exact breakdown is but Wolff will be partly be responsible for all Mercedes motorsport activities not just F1, so DTM and whatever else they choose to do.

      Lauda is responsible for reporting to the board on the F1 teams progress and advises on changes to be made. Brawn is Team Principal figure on the technical side and Fry is (I think…) CEO of the F1 team so manages the business side.

      I am happy to be corrected though.

    2. Red bull have one person running the team, one person running the design of the car, and one person fiddling around on behalf of the owner.

      It’s a lot more complicated than that, but it helped you get your point across, so well done.

      1. Any organisation of several hundred employees is always more complicated than that. However, there’s never a need for more than one “department head”. What’s more, in management terms, once a person occupies that type of position (“the buck stops here”) in one organisation, it’s generally difficult for them to adjust to being in a different position afterwards.

        Managers are necessary to make decisions. An efficient organisation has a clear (preferably small) management structure, and a well trained, intelligent workforce. Management are there to make a decision when the workforce need it. “providing direction” is only necessary when management disagree – as will inevitably happen when so many senior management figures are floating around with not enough management functions to go around.

        1. Was that just an educational exercise, or did you think what you wrote contributed anything to the topic? Jeez, blah, blah, blah, oh, I’m not either….

  5. While Adam Parr was at Williams they had one of the worst seasons ever. Adam Parr criticized Bernie. Bernie told Frank that he should let go of Parr and hire Toto. No one ever heard of Toto. Frank hired Toto. Wialliams wins. Lauda comes to Mercedes to be a mediator between Bernie and Mercedes. Now Toto goes to Mercedes. Is there a connection?

    1. I don’t think you need to look THAT far. Wolff is a major stockholder in HWA AG, the company that prepares Mercedes’ cars in DTM, hence the connection.

      1. And he is now a major stockholder in the Mercedes F1 Team. According to Autosport:

        As well as Wolff’s new appointment, Mercedes has also announced that its non-executive chairman Niki Lauda is to buy shares in the team.

        Aabar had a previous 40 per cent stake in the team. It was then bought back by Daimler and has now been shifted on, with Wolff having a 30 per cent stake and Lauda a 10 per cent one. Daimler owns the remaining 60 per cent.

  6. I think the number of heads and directors at Mercedes AMG has become more than the number of engineers !!! lol
    There is ex Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, Renault ,McLaren …. knowing the fact that they tried also to sign Christian Horner at the end of the last season, i will not be surprised if we will see Martin Whitmarsh and Stefano Domenicali with them in the next year

    1. Stefano I doubt but you never know, Whitmarsh could join them! I think Mercedes have a very unclear management set-up and so it is just confusing the whole process which may be negatory to their progression up the ranks. In comparison to Red Bull, it’s very clear who heads the team itself (Horner) and the design department/RBT (Newey). Compare that to Mercedes and you can see why there may be some issues in terms of who’s doing what.

      1. The Red Bull management demonstrates that with few people, you can run a successful F1 team , Christian who i think is the youngest ever team principle with no experience mastered his management role , Adrian is taking care of the design and of course Marko the “iron soldier” who is a consultant and responsible to their Junior driver program ,the team reminds of the Benetton and the Renault of Flavio Briatore
        When you have a team organised like that it is easy to solve issues when they happened because everyone has a specific role but when we see Mercedes now ,Ross Brawn ,Niki Lauda , Toto Wolff , Aldo Costa, Bob Bell , Nick Fry , Geoff Willis …..
        Lauda now owns 10% of Mercedes AMG, Wolff owns 30% , this can be beneficial for the team because it will guarantee their commitment but it can be also a problem because if those two will fail someone else has to pay

  7. I thought captain isn’t supposed to jump ship.

  8. I hope we don’t get a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth at Mercedes…

    1. @andrewtanner – I hope the board isn’t a committee, that would ruin any hopes that Mercedes has for being competitive! I agree though, the fact nobody appears to fully understand who’s doing what in Mercedes speaks volumes for me.

      1. @vettel1 I think rosberg and Hamilton might be driving and the car is called the W04…other than that I can’t tell you what’s going on! ;)

        1. @andrewtanner – that’s about as far as I know as well! ;)

  9. On a side note, I keep wondering why some people seem to take the 2014 Mercedes engine as a guarantee of success and everyone must be after those engines in their eyes. It’s pretty much fortune-telling right now as far as who’s going to make the best unit and as I recall, recently, the theoretically weakest engines tend to win the championships.

    1. @cyclops_pl I had wondered that myself. It is considered the best engine at the moment but I know RBR favour the Renault because it’s the smallest, thus the best aerodynamically. However having seen the Mercedes with that huge box on top (which I presume is for the ERS) I can’t see how Renault could make it any smaller.

  10. Isnt this a conflict in business interests? A very odd move here, I dont think I’d allow it myself – one or the other… On the other hand, though, perhaps Mercedes are looking to pull the plug on Force India, but would like to maintain a “technical working partnership” with another team in the future…

  11. The guy puts Bottas in place of Senna and now goes to another team.***!!!

  12. So now there is the rumor that Paddy Lowe will also move to Mercedes, pushing out Brawn as technical director. So will we have then the combined knowledge of Lowe and Hamiton regarding McLaren technology and operations?

  13. I say Mercedes looks commited, hope they do better now, but throwing the whole kitchen and the sink may not be enough, LOtuS looks more exciting IMHO

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