Toto Wolff: ‘At the beginning of 2014 we put a target on the wall’

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says the team can ‘push its winning streak further’ and recalls the target they ‘put on a wall’ back in 2014.

After Mercedes won the Constructors’ Championship for the seventh time in a row, everybody wants to know their secret to success. The manufacturer made its return to Formula 1 in 2010 and after a few years of running around in the midfield, from 2014 onward the team won championship after championship.

After winning for the seventh time in a row, Toto Wolff said the team is already “looking forward to a new challenge”.

“It’s just a super proud moment with all these guys and being part of it,” said the Austrian.

“As long as we can stay motivated and energised, and you can see that with these guys, then I think we can push it further.

“There will be competition, no doubt, next year with Max and Honda trying to do a really good job towards the end of the season so we are looking forward to a new challenge.”

Wolff also reveals that the team set an, at the time, “unrealistic” target of winning multiple championships. The person actually responsible for suggesting this target is former Mercedes Engineering Director Aldo Costa, as Wolff explains:

“At the beginning of 2014, we took our senior leadership and we put a target on the wall. That target was to win a constructors’ and drivers’ world championship.

“And Aldo Costa said ‘I don’t think that’s ambitious enough. I think we should put we want to win multiple driver and constructor championships’.

“The discussion in the room was ‘We can’t possibly put that on the wall. It’s completely unrealistic as a target.’

“Thank God we have it everywhere on the wall because it reminded us every year to just continue pushing the boundaries,” concluded the Austrian.

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Costa, now working for Dallara, was left “speechless” when he heard his name was mentioned and thought it was a reflection of “the values” that were built into the team.

“It was just like Toto said,” Costa told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We had signs on which to put projects and ambitions, and I wrote that we should not think of winning a title, but of winning many.

“It wasn’t a brag, it’s just that these are objectives that require completely different organisational processes.

“But the fact that he remembered that episode confirms the atmosphere in the team. The values that we built,” said Costa.

“Toto didn’t talk about mechanics or technology, but of people and values. He called Mercedes a fun team, because it is fun to work there. Because there is unity, there is no politics.

“Most of all there is a no-blame culture, which is crucial. When you make a mistake you know that you will be protected and consoled rather than pointed out, so you feel free to dare.”

Some observers dismiss these comments as only ‘corporate rhetoric’, as they have been repeated many times by different members of the team. Costa says this is exactly what Mercedes wants.

“In Mercedes they are happy that the others believe it to be rhetoric, so they don’t imitate it.”

Costa adds it is this culture that allows Mercedes to survive and thrive despite key people like former Executive Director Technical Paddy Lowe and former Managing Director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains  Andy Cowell leaving the team.

“Whoever goes prepares the future and develops successors with the same philosophy. It is the way to adapt to the vicissitudes of life. And that’s why I can’t imagine a less strong Mercedes.

“I don’t see who can stop them,” concluded the Italian.

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