Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2020

Ferrari’s plight due to ‘decisions made by certain team members’ – Wolff

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Ferrari’s poor performance this year is “not good for Formula 1” and a result of decisions made by “certain members of the team”.

At the track where they swept the front row of the grid and won 12 months ago, Ferrari failed to get either driver into Q3 and were at risk of being eliminated in Q1 today.

The team has admitted its power unit is not as strong this year following changes made to the regulations in response the FIA’s investigation into its engine last year. However it also said there are other shortcomings in the SF-1000 it needs to address.

Wolff said it is not good for Formula 1 that its most famous team is struggling so badly.

“Ferrari is an iconic brand and they should be racing at the very front,” he said. “It’s not good for Formula 1, it’s not good for the competition at the front.

“I very much feel with all the Tifosi and employees of Ferrari for this lack of performance. At the end one must question the priorities that have been set in recent times and where the lack of performance comes from. But overall nobody from the fans and the Ferrari deserve such a result.”

Decisions made by specific individuals within Ferrari are to blame for the team’s situation, said Wolff.

“It’s wrong to say ‘Ferrari priorities’, because that drags Ferrari and everybody in Ferrari into this. It’s maybe the decisions that have been made within the team, from certain members of the team.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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77 comments on “Ferrari’s plight due to ‘decisions made by certain team members’ – Wolff”

  1. I wonder what kind of decisions he is talking about.

    1. My guess is Ferraris decision to “cheat” pre 2019 instead of focusing on legit ways to improve the engine?

  2. It’s maybe the decisions that have been made within the team, from certain members of the team

    Are they the same members that vetoed your suggestion to the job of F1 CEO ?

    1. I think it’s the same individual who dishonestly claimed that all teams were suffering because of the power unit technical directives, when actually only one power unit has noticeably lost performance since last year. The guy who tried to say that all the teams were doing what Ferrari were doing last years when all the available evidence indicates that this is a lie.

      1. No it is not, speed traps and lap times back that out. Spa 2018 track record was just beaten this year because tyres are a step softer than 2019. Speedtrap at spa is 345, doubt anyone is getting within 10 kph with drs and a slipstream
        Where some lost 10 kph a maker looks to have lost 30, their chassis was already awful last year below a couple midfield teams, all performance was coming from the pu.

    2. People in the design department at Ferrari vetoed Wolff?

    3. @tifoso1989 well, it has to be said that, given Binotto was appointed the Chief Technical Officer at Ferrari in mid 2016, until his promotion to being the Managing Director of the team in 2019, Binotto would have been a key figure leading the development direction of Ferrari’s cars over the past few years.

      1. You win the ‘spot the terrible decision-maker (and cheating liar)’ competition!

        1. Michel Saelen
          30th August 2020, 1:55

          Absolute right a liar and cheater he is.

      2. anon,
        I kind of agree with you about Mr Bin8 ! My point is that Wolff is expressing a fake sympathy towards Ferrari meanwhile he is trying to take a shot at its team members to even more destabilize them.
        By the way, one of the reasons that pushed Ferrari to promote Binotto for the team principle role in 2019 at the expense of Arrivabene is that he was in serious talks with Mercedes about a possible move and the only way to keep him is to support him in his conflict with Arrivabene who I think personally was a better leader and the team with him was in a much better shape in the operations/strategy.

        1. Actually I think that Wolff has genuine sporting respect for his rivals in a way that Binotto simply does not. This is something that continues to be demonstrated by both of them when speaking.

          1. With Nikki lauda Toto could do the good cop bad cop approach. Nikki was a great “bad cop”.
            Now nikki is gone he is trying to do both to no avail.

          2. @erikje Loved Laura but his bad cop was weak compared to Marko.
            Wolff is an honest-to-God sportsman and is just disgusted with the cheating and lying. You can see genuine respect between him and Horner though.

          3. @pdduggan your judgement is terrible clouded. You should soon prepare for a big disappointment

          4. @nunof That sounds like a rubbish horoscope.

        2. No, I think Toto was expressing genuine sympathy for the Ferrari fans.

          Not so much for Ferrari the team.

    4. Well if Toto did consider recruiting Mattia to HPP he could be forgiven for some disillusionment now couldn’t he. Just imagine if that had happened and Binotto had taken Mercedes down the route of dodgy development! Toto’s already said he’s fed up of listening to what Binotto says, he’s obviously decided that in spite of the earnest curly-haired persona Mattia is pretty dishonest.

      And Toto has values, there’s no basis for claiming his sympathy for Ferrari fans is fake, in fact he was always super respectful towards Ferrari. This is all about Mattia not being quite straight, and let’s not lose sight of how Jean Todt has nuked him as well.

      1. And Toto has values

        Dealing with the likes of Colin Kolles and Bernie Ecclestone is a good proof of his values though :) He even managed to deceit those nearly two convicted criminals saved only by settlements.

        He promised Kolles a team principle role at Williams as well as some money in exchange for him to be introduced to Bernie and brokering the Williams stock buying deal. He also gave Bernie a Rolex watch as a gift for his services following Kolles advise.

        Kolles never got the team principle role nor the promised money and Susie managed to outsmart Bernie and got back her husband’s watch. Though Kolles used his criminal skills and blackmailed Toto to extort money from him and the matter was settled with Bernie’s intervention.

        1. It’s all absolutely true. Especially the stuff about the watch which is worth less than beer money to Toto and somewhat less than that to Bernie.

        2. @tifoso1989 that is not how the story with regards to Kolles was reported elsewhere though.

          Elsewhere, the explanation seemed to be rather different – whilst Kolles is still said to have arranged for a meeting between Wolff and Ecclestone, at that point in time Wolff doesn’t seem to have promised anything specific payoff to Kolles as a reward for it.

          There was then the claim that, when Wolff moved to Mercedes a few years later, Kolles tried to press Wolff for a job at Mercedes as a favour for having introduced him to Ecclestone – basically, having originally claimed to have set the original meeting up as a “favour for a friend”, it seems that Kolles then wanted to call in that favour to be given a job at Mercedes. Wolff seems to have turned that down, and that seems to have resulted in Kolles basically deciding that, if he couldn’t ask Wolff for the job, he was going to blackmail him for it instead (or, at the very least, for the money he had hoped to get from being given a job at Mercedes).

          As an aside, I presume you are aware that Kolles is not exactly being that kind towards Binotto in the past few weeks either – he’s quoted as saying Binotto is completely unsuited to be the head of Ferrari and suggested that he needs to be replaced.

          Paul Duggan, whilst you say that “It’s all absolutely true”, as far as I can tell, the claims about the watch all seem to have come from the rather dodgier sort of sites that seem to thrive on rumour-mongering. Is it true? Who knows, but I wouldn’t take it as gospel given the reputation of the sites that started those stories.

    5. It’s simple: Binotto band his comical looking glasses needs to go. And as all Ferrari related issues needs to be cleansed, get rid of Steiner while you’re at it.

  3. Binotto has been the Ferrari engineering boss for years. It is his decisions which have brought them to this place and now he is the team boss it’s getting worse.

    Blaming someone else is the Ferrari way. The way down, too.

    1. @Witan

      I used to agree with this line of thinking- buck stops with the captain of the ship. But they’ve had several captains steering the sinking ship and not much has changed. At some point the organisation as a whole has to be reviewed- the structure, the way the operate which very much includes the well documented “political atmosphere” at the Scuderia etc etc. I also don’t think the lack of diversity within Ferrari helps- and no I’m not strictly talking about the BLM etc but more just different nationalities who bring a different cultural work ethic. Clearly the “Italian way” isn’t working.

  4. Binotto of course. He looks like a dork and he is a dork. I can access that he has been bullied in his younger days and now with power, he thinks he can use bully for success. I have been a Ferrari fan for as long as I’ve watched the F1 now the only feelings I have for Ferrari is disgust.

    1. He looks rather like Robert Downey Jr in Soapdish…..

  5. If he feels that badly for them, he can always sell them some drawings of the Merc before the new Tracing-Point rules come into play.

  6. Is there some subject that Toto can comment only with: “it’s their team, I don’t have no idea what’s going there and I won’t comment”?

    We already got it. Toto is great, Mercedes is great, Hamilton is great. No need to step on the rivals when they are down, that’s not nice at all.

    1. Binotto fully deserves it. I’m only surprised Horner has t been more vocal since RB had second place in the constructors’ stolen from them.

      1. F1 teams live permanently on the edge of the rules. All teams do that. Teams have much more brain power to outsmart the rules than the rule-makers. Sometimes the teams interpretation is the same as the organization (like with DAS), sometimes it isn’t. This is not a moral thing, trying to pretend that Ferrari cheated and others don’t is wrong.

        Is particularly wrong if it’s a team leader that was caught cheating just recently in the Force India case, when it was proven that they sent to Force India a part that was forbidden to share in the moment they did it, and it’s now trying to point the finger to others

        1. Non such thing has actually been proven. Ferrari however cheated. Not one the edge’. They cheated and deliberately implemented the cheat in such a way as to conceal it from future investigation. But when the cheat got sniffed out their performance collapsed, so let’s not pretend we don’t know what they did.

          1. We know what they did, the same way we know what Mercedes and Racing Point did, both ilegal.

            But one of the parts is throwing stones at the other side, maybe to make people forget his own faults.

        2. Ferrari cheated, they did not skirt the rules, bend them or even have a “imaginative interpretation” of the rules.

          What Ferrari did was akin to stepping on the weigh scales to hide an underweight car, clear and outright cheating.

    2. Considering Ferrari did politicize the Concorde agreement and giving the impression that Mercedes were the only ones holding everyone back. Then the way the let go of Vettel and then lying about it. Lying that all engines have been affected by the new TD.
      These are not statements made by machines.
      They are made by people who make decisions.
      Let’s not forget that Wolff and Binotto send to get on well much earlier and Wolff always seemed to have much respect for Ferrari hence why he doesn’t accuse the brand but those individuals who represent the brand.

    3. I believe the main thrust of his comments are ‘this is not good for F1’, are they not?

  7. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    29th August 2020, 21:03

    Oh boy, Toto opened a can of worms.

    1. What makes you think Toto opened it up? There has been a buzz around this for a few days. Seems Toto knew exactly what was going on at Ferrari; hence why the press are now asking him questions. So rather than opening up a can of worms, it seems he has kept a lid on it (apart from letting the FIA know) for some time.

      1. Revenge for a certain ongoing protest?

      2. Exactly. He gave a cryptic but diplomatic response that anyone who has an ounce of intelligence can see through.

  8. That is a pretty big broadside and to me that sounded pretty personal. I am not sure that the MB hierarchy would have appreciated this one bit, especially as he was told to drop the Ferrari PU action last year by his bosses.

    Could be that Toto has decided to go and rather than sit back and go serenely into the sunset, he has decided to settle a few scores and twist a few knives before he parachutes out!! They don’t call it the ‘piranha club’ for nothing!

  9. And that, ladies and gents, is what a fragile ego looks like in a grown man.

    1. Did we read the same article?

      1. I think,Robert, we read it. I cannot speak for others commenting here :-)

    2. You’re referring to your post, yes?

  10. Perhaps his comment is fairly true, but often Wolff’s remarks are pretty tasteless. This one doesn’t need to be said at all.

    1. Right. He should have punched the reporter for asking the question, instead.

      /sarcasm.

  11. At the end one must question the priorities that have been set in recent times and where the lack of performance comes from.

    One hypothesis is Ferrari were doing something illegal with their engine to get extra power they weren’t entitled to, and that now they have stopped doing whatever it was they shouldn’t have been doing, so their engine is now producing the power it was only ever capable of producing within the rules. If so, then one can argue that was a consequence of poor decisions, but that the priorities weren’t in themselves wrong. Wanting to win isn’t wrong as a priority, after all winning is why every team is in F1, but wanting to win by breaking the rules shouldn’t be acceptable in any team as a priority.
    Every team is where it is on the Constructors’ Championship table because of the priorities and decisions made. Maybe those priorities need to be given the occasional tweak, but basically if they worked in the past then why shouldn’t they now? The question isn’t so much why Ferrari are where they are now, but how quickly they can develop the new technologies necessary to get them back to the top of the WCC table while not breaking the rules. F1 is as much a technology race as it is a car race, so while they are now languishing in the midfield, Ferrari must have been in a place like this many times before to enable them to compete in around 1000 races, so I’m expecting them to rise to the occasion. Of course, it could be Ferrari haven’t actually fallen behind, rather the midfield has caught up to them, which is good for F1.

    1. Ferrari couldn’t get on par with Merc even given their in-bully financial advantages. So, rather than develop new technologies within the rules they deliberately broke the rules when they thought they could do it without the breach being detectable/provable. Without major management restructuring Ferrari is not capable of competing (fairly) with Mercedes. Binotto very much IS problem in all respects.

      1. I think any moderately objective observer is reluctantly brought to the conclusion that Ferrari ‘victories’ prior to the ‘engine mystery agreement’ should be revisited with a view to nullifying such ‘victories’. It really is so sad to see this happening to Ferrari even though I am not a supporter I have always had a healthy respect for them. Very sad and damaging for F1 as a whole

  12. I really do wish he’d butt out. I’m sick to death of hearing Toto Wolff’s thoughts on everything.

    I remember wondering who the hell he was when he turned up in the Williams garage as an ‘investor’. Next thing he’s usurped Ross Brawn just as Mercedes were hitting their stride.

    I’m sick of hearing how it’s “tough/hard/not comfortable” etc when they’re on pole by a second, just be honest for god’s sake.

    Irritating to the extreme

    1. Yes, it’s increasingly difficult to take any comment from anyone at Mercedes seriously these days. Similar thing with Hamilton claiming that Red Bull would be a real threat in qualifying in Belgium.

      1. Yes the way Hamilton said it looks close at the end of P2 (as it was) and then added ‘but we dont know what fuel loads or programmes the others are running.’
        Although I think you are right to point out that massive gap between Bottas Mercedes and Max. What was it again; nearly a tenth of a second?

    2. They’re obligated to attend press conferences and take questions. If you don’t want to hear their thoughts the solution is simple.

      1. agreed, Paul Duggan :-)

  13. It is apparent that Ferrari was not pursuing advancements with the aero design since they had an engine that could produce more power with the fuel flow loophole. With the engine turned down the lack of aero is exposed.

    1. Yes. These days they are a poor F1 team and they can’t even use the free money they receive to paper over the cracks any more. I honestly believe that – with the same budget – almost every team
      in F1 would out-perform this Ferrari team. No wonder the Scuderia is terrified of the budget cap. For how much longer will people continue to automatically agree that Ferrari is vital to F1?

    2. It wasnt a loophole. Teams were told they can only use a certain amount of fuel & ferrari found a way to cheat…. it most definitely was not a loophole.

      1. I would disagree as Ferrari was caught not reporting the correct fuel amounts and what was strange is that FIA didn’t bother checking the other car’s fuel amount when in similar circumstances all cars for a team were check if one of the team’s cars was found to have a discrepancy.

    3. Nonsense, Ferrari introduced the high inlet sidepods in 2017 that the entire grid has now copied.

  14. Wait until we get to Monza and the tiffosi see their beloved SF cars scrambling in mid field…there could be riots. Monza demands horsepower and the current power unit from Ferrari sucks.

    1. poor horses near monza… tiffosi will need a few heads to make their point :-p

    2. But there won’t be any Tifosi on stands- thankfully. Otherwise there’d be riots

  15. Bit off topic but I noticed that some people in the pits not wearing their masks properly and Albon did not have a filter fitted to his mask. Have they forgotten the broadcast goes out all of the world, they need to be seen as taking things seriously.

    1. They should have this picture as a poster all over the paddock

      1. I didn’t expect to see something that funny this early in the morning!

  16. It is clear the 2019 Ferrari engine/power units were not in the spirit of the rules. Although technically it was not cheating the FIA must have told Ferrari that they would allow the 2019 spec engines to compete but the 2020 rules would tighten whatever grey area Ferrari had found and that the Ferrari 2020 engine must comply with it. Hence all the secrecy about the FIA investigation into the whole saga and the huge performance difference between 2019 and 2020. I don’t see any other explanation.

  17. Mmmm, mind games?
    As a Merc and Lewis fan, I’d rather the team focus more on itself and crush every competition in every race on the way to more glory.

  18. What a grim scenario for Sainz. It looks like that Ferrari is a racers’ mass grave. Kimi, Alonso, Vettel, Massa, ….

    Where all the money went ? The joke they are now, the fake hope they give to fans. The current Vettel drama is just not fair to Ferrari name. I can’t even wear my hat with pride. No reason for such.

    I resisted to jump to Lewis wagon. Toto double face didn’t help. Too easy to bet on winners but there’s a line between incidental drama to plain horror. Binotto set new highs on mediocrity and mentally you can’t root for losers too long. You get tired and a spectacle meant to entertain you, well, isn’t there. You can even get a more rewarding season with Racing Point.

    I still love Ferrari but enough is enough

    Sigh.

    1. Dont forget to include Lec in your list. What a waste…

  19. Ah, the famous Mercedes gestapo has delivered inside information into other teams yet again. Top notch spying from Toto. Wonder how many double agents they have at Ferrari.

    1. Yes, top notch spies . And as I am sure you wish to point out; absolutely nothing to do with the team members who left Ferrari after the Arrivabene/Binotto fallout with some ending up at Mercedes.

  20. Where do Mercedes, Renault and Honda get all the extra power?
    These engines have been around for seven years and have reached the peack of their development. They are all very similar and are subject to very strict limitations. How can there be a 50/60 hp deficit, given they all use the same amount of fuel?
    Where do the other teams get the energy source to turn into extra power?
    Given the present regulations, there should be no more than a 10 hp difference between one engine and the other.

  21. The funniest thing about the Ferrari engine cheat, is that before the agreement with the FIA the increased power of the Ferrari was pushing all the other PU providers to even greater highs. Which they all achieved to a greater or lesser degree.

    So by cheating, Ferrari went from competing with Mercedes (badly) to competing with Williams.

    Which is exactly where they deserve to be at the moment.

    And before anyone pulls me up on the word “cheat” – come on, who are you kidding?

    1. Ahem? Cheat is not “politically correct”.
      Advantage is the vegan/pc/gluten free/environmentally friendly term!

  22. Eh, Wolff says a lot of things.
    I still believe in Sir. Binotto and Sir. Elkann. The upside to this Belgium performance is now we know where we stand (no BS) and we know how much work there is to do. In my opinion we should write off this and next year while doing extensive work behind the scenes and putting absolutely everything and everyone, all hands on deck on 2022.

  23. It’s pretty simple actually. Ferrari being down with no end in sight hurts the sport. I have friends who refuse to watch the races as Ferrari is nowhere…

    Binotto was asked over the weekend what Ferrari is putting in place now to move towards success in 2022 to which he had the big standard answer.

    Maybe the drivers summarised it well with Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen all concluding Spa as being boring and non challenging really as it was about tire management rather than outright racing. Even though Mercedes likes the success (who wouldn’t) these drivers want to win outright.

    So if Ferrari is serious about getting back to top spot a number of people have to be moved on

  24. F1 needs competition. Toto is genuinely concerned that a good competitor is fast going down the drain.

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