Toto Wolff, 2019

Liberty could offer Carey’s F1 CEO role to Mercedes’ Wolff after 2020

2021 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff could succeed Chase Carey as Formula 1 Group CEO once his contract with Mercedes expires at the end of 2020.

RaceFans understands that Wolff’s shareholding in the team – he holds 30 per cent and Niki Lauda 10 per cent, with Mercedes owner Daimler holding the balance – is subject to a ‘pull’ option, enabling the German manufacturer to acquire their combined 40 per cent according to predetermined valuations.

Numerous high-level sources have told RaceFans that Wolff “is considering his future”. The team’s recent run of championship success could be jeopardised by new regulations and budget controls from 2021, and the fact Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche is due to step down at the end of May is also said to be an influential factor.

Zetsche will be succeeded by Ola Källenius, currently head of group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development. In that role he pushed a new electric model initiative under the product and technology brand EQ, and is said to have been a strong advocate for the brand’s entry into Formula E in 2020.

According to Mercedes insiders Källenius and Wolff have an uneasy relationship, which is likely to be another factor in Wolff’s considerations.

Chase Carey, Baku City, Circuit, 2019
Carey is expected to step down as CEO in 2021
When this scenario was put to him in Baku, Wolff did not deny that his contract expires at the end of 2020 and admitted that he is considering his future, but would not comment further save to state that he and Källenius are on good terms.

According to Liberty insiders 65-year-old Carey, currently CEO and Chairman of Liberty Media, will step down from his CEO role after 2020, but will retain the chairman position – thus creating an executive position for Wolff, who is said to be highly rated by Liberty’s board.

Carey is believed to be on a three-year contract, which expires at the end of 2019, but agreed to extend it by 12 months in line with plans for F1’s new covenants and regulations to kick in for 2021.

Keeping Carey, who is highly rated in stock exchange circles, in the chairman role would enable a smooth transition while ensuring that the NASDAQ-listed company maintains strong relations with investors. Where this would leave Liberty’s Managing Director Ross Brawn, who was ousted as boss of the Mercedes F1 team by Wolff in 2014, is unclear.

A Formula 1 spokesperson declined to comment when approached by RaceFans.

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36 comments on “Liberty could offer Carey’s F1 CEO role to Mercedes’ Wolff after 2020”

  1. Great. Wolff knew every advantages and every FIA regulations that benefited Mercedes. He can scrap all that to create more equal playing field.

    I just hope in the future he didn’t compare F1 performance to Formula E and keep telling us that we still not there.

    1. I don’t think there are any secrets as to what those advantages were. Mercedes started their engine program early and spent a ton of money on it. They already had an excellent engine team and they simply added zeros to the end to make it even better. At the same time they built their team and hired good people no matter the cost. They have had good team principals who have played the political game well to keep those advantages. They have had good drivers, good strategy and excellent car development program during the season. Switching toto to someone else won’t really change anything. And even if toto became the ceo toto’s successor would fight just as hard against any changes as toto has.

    2. DAllein (@)
      8th May 2019, 11:01

      Matbe it is time to stop implying Mercedes are cheating and winning because of loopholes in regulations?!
      Just stop it.

      Regulations are open to and known by all other teams.

      1. But Mercedes exploits and loopholes aint.

        1. What loophole? Its not Mercs fault that their engineers worked hard and in right direction that their PU division is paying dividends.

  2. Shouldn’t there be a regulation which states that a team principal cannot go on to work for the governing/owning body for a certain amount of time after he quits the team ?

    But a very wise decision considering the uncertainties of the reg changes in 2021…

    The team’s recent run of championship success could be jeopardised by new regulations and budget controls from 2021, and the fact Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche is due to step down at the end of May is also said to be an influential factor.

    1. I don’t see a problem going from a team to the FIA provided he sells his shares in the team. You would want that kind of experience at the FIA. It’s the other way around that we should look at closely where someone at the FIA could have knowledge of what other teams are working on or other types of insider information that could give a team an unfair advantage

      1. @lancer033
        agreed. As long as he does not have any (known/declared) vested interest in the team that he worked with, it is fine if her does move to the governing body,etc.

        where someone at the FIA could have knowledge of what other teams are working on or other types of insider information that could give a team an unfair advantage

        ~the first name that came to my mind was Marcin Budkowski who was gardening leave for about 6 months before joining sometime last year. Looking at where Renault are at the moment, his hiring has given the team an unfair disadvantage !!!

        1. @webtel – I think Marcin took all those Ferrari mid-season development designs to Renault, you know, the stuff they realized waaay too late wasn’t working ;)

          1. @phylyp
            Ha ha. Late indeed.
            On a different note, i am not sure if Marcin’s presence was a factor in Daniel saying yes to Renault. I think he stated that Renault showed a development curve which convinced him w.r.t. long term results.
            Wonder what they showed…

      2. Pedro Andrade
        8th May 2019, 16:28

        Looking at what happened to Brabham, it looks like a team->FIA/FOM move doesn’t necessarily benefit a team.

  3. I would have thought both Wolff and Horner might be in that frame. Both are young enough to want a new challenge and both probably have the necessary credentials.

    1. @dbradock

      I remember Horner was being considered for that role. Although, between the two, I do think Toto will do a better job. He seems more mature and a whole lot more PR friendly than Horner, who spends his time making snide remarks and insulting constructors who have a rich history in the sport.

      1. Well to be fair he mainly insults Cyril :)

        I do to so it’s a fair call.

      2. I don’t think f1 needs a pr friendly face. F1 needs a mini bernie who can put pull the big three away from the driving seat and make some changes f1 needs. On one level that person needs to be strong enough to get stuff done but at the same time that person needs to be sane enough so f1 does not revert back to bernie era knee jerk reactionary decision making and random ideas that randomly become reality.

    2. @dbradock @todfod – it was Bernie who hinted at Horner as his successor, back in the day:

  4. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
    8th May 2019, 8:23

    Wolff is being a great team manager and what he is achieving with Mercedes will stay in the history book of F1. I think this can be a great career opportunity for him, other than a new kind of challenge. Let’s see what happens.

    1. ColdFly (@)
      8th May 2019, 8:48

      I agree that he has proven to be a good team principal.
      But I don’t see him necessarily as a great CEO (for Liberty or anywhere else). I’m not sure that his emotional outbursts (banging the table) would be a good fit for such a (less operational) role.

      I’d rather see Brawn in that role, but guess that he’s not interested.
      Even Horner would be a better fit IMO. If we like it or not Liberty is an entertainment company. And Horner has more experience with that being at RBR than Wolff.

      1. You don’t think Toto fits cause he bangs tables, but Horner works even though he shows partners zero respect and insults them at every turn once something goes wrong? Brilliant conclusion!

        1. Not just the table, Susie too. But hey, that’s just me being envious ;)

  5. I can just see it now.
    “Given the history and existing market for Formula E it’s amazing that the viewing figures for Formula 1 are higher and shows just what a good job liberty are doing. But I doesn’t change the fact that Formula E is the better series”

    1. @yossarian Liberty Global owns Formula E, whilst Liberty Media owns Formula 1. Whichever Formula wins out, they (Liberty) can’t lose.

  6. I think he would fit the role very well, but what about the history between him and Ross Brawn ? In his book, even though he wasn’t very specific about the details, Brawn made it clear that he was not happy with the way Lauda and Wolff pushed him to the side at Mercedes.

    1. bob (@riptide)
      8th May 2019, 9:59

      Neither was I, but he has won me over. Not just with his record of achievements, but his management style of no blame culture and transparency. He has also made it clear that he sees being TP as a small part of his career; not the pinnacle as it is for many others. And in a head to head with Hamilton he has said he will take Mercedes as far as he can, and move aside once he thinks someone else would do a better job of it. Within F1 I see him as the stand out candidate.

      1. @riptide – agreed, Toto comes across as a straight shooter most of the times, and is comfortable sharing a fair amount of information.

  7. Can’t wait to hear about how Formula E is faster than Formula 1.

    1. Pedro Andrade
      8th May 2019, 11:02

      Ahahah! I can already envision: “F1 is in terrible shape, FE cars are definitely faster and more exciting”

      Headline the next day: 2021 Abu Dhabi GP voted best F1 race ever.

    2. came here to comment this, there you go sir, have my +1

  8. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    8th May 2019, 10:47

    “F1 needs to be mindful about the NASCAR truck series, the French national GT championship and Japanese Formula 4”

  9. DAllein (@)
    8th May 2019, 11:03

    Hmm… interesting.

    Not sure his effort could save F1 after all atrocities planned to be introduced, still would be nice to have such a person in Management.

    And he is much better than the certain loudmouth from RBR.

  10. I think Wolff is as good as Alfred Neubauer in my opinion, he rarely makes a tactical mistake.
    He may be looking for a new challenge after Merc and taking over the running of F1 would be quite a big job. Especially as it would probably mean managing the transition away from ICE to another type of engine.

  11. Was Ross Brawn really ‘ousted’? To my knowledge, it was more of a personal decision to leave Mercedes at the end of 2013 BTW, than about getting ousted, or sacked, fired, whichever word people prefer to use.

  12. Meet the new Toto, (close-ish to the) same as the old Bernie

    (seriously though if this happens I’ll not be able to help but find it funny to see another team principal heading FOM.

    And maybe a bit scary as well)

  13. Toto is another lying self-serving politician, & a snake in the grass.
    Liberty would be making a huge mistake.

  14. His first order of business to spice up the race weekend would be to include the medical helicopter being able to take off as part of the ceremony.

    Pilot! Get to da chopppahhh!

  15. It would be nice if whomever gets the job could find a way of keeping supporters/ fans/tragics for generations instead of ” alienating” a lot and therefore needing to keep attracting new ones for little or no net gain. (Not that new ones aren’t important).

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