Toto Wolff at the 2022 Miami GP Saturday Press Conference

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff attended the Miami Grand Prix Saturday Press Conference. Here is the full transcript.

Q: Welcome to you all gentlemen. Let’s go left to right, Toto, let’s start with you, thoughts on the Miami Grand Prix please?

Toto WOLFF: Mega. I think it’s a fantastic achievement by all of those involved: promoters, Formula 1, and FIA to have come up with such an event and the city is hyped – is that how you say it? Formula 1 is all around, the amount of guest requests we have is amazing. I think we’ve finally landed in North America.

Q: Now what about on-track Toto? In terms of lap-time, it seemed like a good day yesterday. What conclusions did you draw?

TW: I think we brought some parts that function. The lower-drag package generally has been good to us in the past. The track surface seems to be very smooth, so our bouncing problem isn’t as articulated, like on some of the other tracks. And I think we’ve just managed to chip away at the lap-time and yesterday was good. But we need to be also honest with ourselves: it’s not like that we have brought a ground-breaking solution but probably the circumstances favoured us yesterday. We haven’t seen Max running properly. So, I would express caution at that stage.

Q: Express caution – but do you think you now have a development path to follow with this car?

TW: Yes, I think we have more clarity on where we need to go. But I would say if we were to put this car here on Imola at 10°C and rain, the picture would have been maybe a little bit better, but still not good enough.

Q: And George Russell is 28 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton after four races. You always said George is good – but as he surprised you in any way this year?

TW: When you look at George’s track record in winning the title in F3, in his rookie year, and then an F2, we knew that he was very good. And then obviously the Williams school, added it’s part, so we were never in any doubt that he would that he would be very good. And you can see that it’s materialising on the track. I like his approach very much. He’s very rational, whether he is fastest in P2, or whether he’s eleventh, it’s just about applying the science and trying to make the car faster. But at the same time, Lewis was obviously very unlucky, being stuck in a DRS train last time around, so I enjoy seeing them working together, the level is high from both of them. And that has put us in a decent situation in the Constructors’ Championship, so I couldn’t wish for any better pairing.

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Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) There was a recent discussion about increasing the number of Sprint events for next season. But publicly, the objection to that was put on the FIA side, and that it needed to be evaluated further. Were you surprised by that? That there was this lack of alignment between F1 and the FIA when that has been such a given in previous years?

TW: I think that scrutiny needs to be given on the decisions we take. And I’m sure that between Stefano and Mohammed, we’re going to come to a resolution. For Mohammed it was important to hear the FIA’s members’ opinion, and he wasn’t against it, just that he needed more time for that decision.

Q: (Jeff Gluck – The Athletic) Obviously, you’re not wrong about this being mega, how does that this race in particular maintain its position, with so much hype going for it. Once Vegas comes on in future years, it’s going to be here for a while. What are the keys to making sure this remains a top event?

TW: I think there’s so many things that already work in favour of Miami: the city, the entertainment that it’s provided outside of the racing track. But I think one major factor will be how entertaining the race will be. These are great expectations from fans and partners that come to Miami, and I think whatever needs to be done for the track to provide that real entertainment factor will be important to consider for the future. We have a very long straight, hopefully that can provide for some overtaking and if not, I’m sure that the team around Tom here will eventually come up with great solutions if it needs to be tweaked, which we don’t know yet.

Q: (Jonathan Noble – This weekend, there’s been some dialogue between some teams and the FIA regarding Ferrari running two different specification floors at the Imola tyre test. First of all, are you comfortable with what took place there and the explanation of the FIA? And are there any concerns that teams can now exploit the regulations to use these Pirelli tests to test different components?

TW: I haven’t followed that in detail. I’ve seen, obviously, the Tweet with the two pictures. But the FIA just needs to be on top of these things. It can’t be that any team runs a component in an environment it shouldn’t be doing. And I guess if the FIA was not 100% on it, I’m sure they will be now.

Q: (Adam Cooper – Zak addressed this yesterday, but for Toto and Laurent. Greg Maffei said yesterday that Formula 1 is spending $240 million dollars to basically buy a block of Las Vegas to service the paddock. As stakeholders, what do you think that says about Liberty’s commitment to that event, and what do you think about Formula 1’s move into full-on race promotion, which is obviously a new thing?

TW: I’m not in the details, Adam, about how that’s going to pan out. I think, first of all, it’s exciting that we’re going to Las Vegas. And promotion generally happens without our intense involvement. So ,whether you do it with an external promoter, the model that we know, or whether they do it themselves, I think they have great expertise with Live Nation. So yeah, I’m looking forward to the event, and clearly having an American shareholder, it’s very beneficial hosting a race in a city like Las Vegas.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Toto, Lewis yesterday said that he was against removing the jewellery but ahead of practice he took the earrings out. So I just wanted to know what changed in that period. What did Mohammed say, and do you expect that he’ll remove the other… the nose stud for the Monaco Grand Prix, which I think it’s a two-race exemption?

TW: I think what was needed was a dialogue between Lewis and Mohammed. It is clear that regulations are here to protect the drivers; on the other side, we need to keep the possibility on diversity and the means of expression and expressing yourself. And we know that this is important for Lewis, so yesterday without going into detail where the piercing stayed, and we’re not… yeah, I’m sure they will come to a good resolution.

Q: (Jordan Bianchi – The Athletic) Toto, Michael Andretti’s group is here this weekend and Michael has said numerous times he would like to buy into Formula 1 and have an 11th franchise. What are your thoughts on that? Are you in favour of that? And would you like to see an 11th team granted to Michael Andretti?

TW: Yeah, I just got a WhatsApp this morning for Mario. And I think, so many things have been said around an American entry. So, on the pluses. I’m sure that if we have a true American team, with an American driver, that would be very beneficial. But, we have had 10 entries today, we divide the prize fund among those 10 entries. We have invested considerable amounts over the last 10 years. I mean, each of the organisations that’s sitting here on the podium has probably put more than a billion into the Formula 1 projects over the years, so it needs to be accretive. If a team comes in, how can you demonstrate that you’re bringing in more money than it’s actually costing: because then 11th team means a 10 per cent dilution for everybody else. So, if one is able to demonstrate that, then we should all be sitting on the table, and cheer for such an entry. But that hasn’t been demonstrated yet. And that may sound a bit dry, because it comes down to the numbers, but the value of Formula 1 is that it’s a limited amount of franchises. And we don’t want to dilute that value by just adding teams.

Q: (Chris Medland – Racer) It’s a question for all three again but Netflix has been widely credited with F1’s growth and popularity recently but obviously you need the drivers to be characters that people can relate to or warm to make that happen too. For Toto and Laurent, you have very experienced guys in your teams that maybe are more confident themselves but for all three of you, you’ve seen the young drivers really come in and instantly be themselves and be honest kind of characters for people to get kind of behind and do you think that’s helped in recent years?

TW: I think at the core is the DNA of the sport. We are credible and around that, like Zak said we’ve built an ecosystem and the interesting part is that with that fix coming in it put an emphasis on the personalities that maybe weren’t so much in the spotlight before; obviously Lewis and the top guys out there, but people got interested in the people that participate in the sport, and this is how you can relate to them. And I think the stories in the first few episodes around the drivers, they weren’t as known, got many people hooked and, interestingly, that got them watching the Grand Prix well because they could relate to the personality, they knew who Esteban Ocon was and how his background was. So I think, how is reality TV working? That’s our own little reality show around the core DNA of the sport. And that’s motor racing, and that shouldn’t be diluted.

Q: (Dexter Bridgeman – MI Media Group) As I look at the sport, it’s an incredible sport, it’s actually my first experience, and it’s just been overwhelmingly positive. But as you’re planning to grow the sport throughout the United States, how are you planning to be more inclusive? How do you plan to reach out to your non-traditional fans, people who look like me? I don’t see a lot of people here that look like me, not in this room, the drivers as such, how are you planning to grow the sport throughout this country?

TW: As teams, we are trying to be more inclusive and more diverse. We have… all of us have our own initiatives, we have something that’s called Accelerate 25, where over the next years, we want to hire at least 25% from underrepresented groups in our team. Because what it needs is role models, not only the top driver, obviously, who is the biggest role model the sport has, but we need you, talking about the sport, we need to change that room, there needs to be a more diverse group of people talking about Formula 1. And like Zak said, it’s just we just need to take one step at a time, we would love to have a very diverse group of fans and audiences and whatever we can do we are prepared to do.


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