Toto Wolff


His rise from the pe­riph­ery of F1 to top of the all-con­quer­ing Mercedes team is one of the sport’s most in­trigu­ing hu­man-in­ter­est sto­ries.

digs a lit­tle deeper into the man be­hind Merc with a se­lec­tion of your ques­tions

Squint­ing in the Mel­bourne af­ter­noon sun­light, Toto Wolff low­ers his im­pos­ing frame onto a bench-seat across a ta­ble from F1 Rac­ing. He’s ten­ta­tive as he de­scends, wary of strain­ing the left knee he dam­aged in a faintly lu­di­crous gym mishap ear­lier this year.

“It was stupid, you know,” he re­lates, in a clipped, ac­cented tone, that, yes, does sound a bit like Arnie’s [Wolff has been dubbed ‘To­to­na­tor’ by Merc so­cial me­dia gu­rus]. “I was train­ing with Susie [Wolff, his wife and Wil­liams test driver] and I jumped onto a medicine ball. It just went.”

The dam­age was painful and de­bil­i­tat­ing, though hap­pily xable through a con­tin­u­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process. But he’s still limp­ing slightly and doesn’t look ready to trot out a marathon any time soon. It’s sur­pris­ing, in­deed, to en­counter some­thing less than op­ti­mised at this phe­nom­e­nally slick and suc­cess­ful For­mula 1 team. By all ac­counts, Wolff has found the phys­i­cal im­pair­ment ex­tremely frus­trat­ing – hardly sur­pris­ing for a one-time mem­ber of the Aus­trian na­tional rugby squad (yes, re­ally) and a fast, am­bi­tious for­mer racer.

To­day though, as we speak on the Satur­day af­ter­noon of the Aus­tralian GP, his spir­its are high – lifted, no doubt, by the blis­ter­ing pace so very much ev­i­dent in this year’s W06 Hy­brid. Cer­tainly, he’s in a good frame of mind to face a grilling-by-reader cour­tesy of the F1 Rac­ing Global Fan Com­mu­nity. “Have you done one of th­ese be­fore?” we ask. “No.” So we ex­plain the for­mat of our long-run­ning ‘You Ask The Ques­tions’ se­ries of in­ter­views, whereby read­ers are given the chance to quiz the sport’s movers and shak­ers.

“Okay,” says Toto with a nod. “I am ready.” What is it like to work with Niki Lauda? Re­becca Pagett, UK Very in­ter­est­ing, be­cause, of course, he has been in the sport for such a long time in var­i­ous roles. And as a driver he be­came a three-time world cham­pion and that gives us just so much ‘an­gle’ to see things from a driver’s per­spec­tive. So I en­joy work­ing with Niki very much. Is that an­swer too long? F1R: No – keep go­ing! De­scribe Niki Lauda in three words. Zacharie Du­val, France Um… [there’s a pause of eight sec­onds as Wolff pre­pares his words care­fully] di­rect… pre­cise… … and, uh, how do you say… he’s… he learns and de­vel­ops him­self. Self-crit­i­cal? ‘Ca­pa­ble of learn­ing?’ Some­one who is not stub­born but is ca­pa­ble of say­ing ‘you’re right’.

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