Toto Wolff was present at the Italian Grand Prix Friday Press Conference and talked about Williams, the Racing Point controversy, Mercedes’ dominance and more! Here is the transcript.
Q: Toto, if I could come to you next please. You’ve had many dealings with Frank and Claire over the years and could we just get your reaction the news that the family is leaving Formula 1?
Toto WOLFF: The family have been the founders of this team and I will always hold the team high up. It was the start of my own journey in Formula 1. I remember the first sentence that Frank Williams told me when I went there in 2009 and that was “somebody told me that you can help repay my mortgage”. This is how he is and he is super straightforward and I ended up with a shareholding in the team. I met Claire and without it meaning it in any way patronising, I thought it was very important that Claire was on the board and I’m impressed on how she grew there and what she has achieved, together with her father. I will never forget our last win in 2012 with Pastor, which was an incredible moment, also because your mum was there, and probably one of my best moments in Formula 1.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Toto, you said on the 9th of August you said: “obviously, our reputation is very important. If someone thinks we have done something wrong they should protest and we are happy to go to court.” Since then variously people, team principals past and present etc have made potentially defamatory remarks about the team’s involvement or possible involvement with Racing Point, some saying that you supplied data, wind tunnel models, full-sized cars. Have you taken any action or not?
TW: Of course when there are defamatory comments being put online or that are being taken on air we have reacted appropriately. I get really upset when unfounded rumours find their way into the press, especially when we are, I think, a very straightforward, very compliant organisation because obviously we represent one of the most iconic car brands in the world. But, you know, things are often being put out of context in the press, they are being tweaked, people are making up rumours, the sources are unreliable sometimes, but as long as it doesn’t damage the reputation of Mercedes then you have to take it with a pinch of salt.
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Q: Toto, can we put this to you please, just your assessment of Red Bull this season, who look like being your closest rivals?
TW: Red Bull has all the resource, human resource and financial resource to compete at the very front. I think that they had those great years with Renault, starting in 2010 with four consecutive championships – we are having a run at the moment. As Cyril said, it’s about putting all things together, every parameter is needed in order to get there and that is not only the engine and chassis relationship that needs to be strong but it’s also about putting all components, all these marginal gains together in order to perform. But I very much think this can be a cyclical sport or at least in the past, it has been a cyclical sport and it’s something that we are very well aware of so we are trying to not rest on any laurels but just focus on what lies ahead of us.
Q: (Jon McEvoy – Daily Mail) Toto, Lewis said last week that he would be bored watching the ease with which he wins. Do you think Formula 1 should: a) worry about that and b) does it in a bizarre way undermine all that Lewis is doing in that it seems to the outside world that it seen that he’s in a Mercedes that is so dominant?
TW: Of course you need to define what Formula 1 stands for and in my opinion it’s very much the majority of the DNA is the sport and sport works on meritocracy but the sport has also to deliver entertainment and in that respect, obviously, if Usain Bolt wins every single race and Bayern Munich wins every single championship, it can come to a point that the result becomes very predictable and less variable and this is something that the fans cheer for. It’s always the underdog, who is always the point of interest; everybody wants to see the underdog perform and we are very well aware of that dynamic and therefore we are coming up and we will come up with suggestions that must not necessarily impact our own performance. These things are done anyway, but all the other teams and the FIA and Liberty, in order to slow us down a little bit, but in things where we can use the current resource to make it more exciting. One of the ideas that I voiced last week was to open up the intercom channels between the pit wall and the garage, which would show how much drama is actually behind winning a race. When you see Spa and people think that it’s a walk in the park, actually it wasn’t at all. We had reliability issues, we were not sure whether we could make it on a one stop like many other teams and if that would be transmitted to the broadcasters, that would create more excitement.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) For Toto and Cyril on behalf of the engine companies in Formula 1. We have the new TD here this weekend outlining how engine modes need to work over race weekends going forward. Do you think that there is enough clarity now over what is and isn’t allowed within the complex nature of these engines? Do you think there is any suggestion of wrong-doing and do you welcome the FIA requesting information from the engine manufacturers about the ERS designs of their respective packages?
TW: I think obviously we got a little bit frustrated with this decision because we have optimised our engine very much to perform near to the limits in qualifying. That was one of the targets we set ourselves, especially for this year, and when this is taken away, it is obviously frustrating. But on the other side I understand the dynamics in this sport, not the first time that teams that run away with a championship were penalised or were trying to be slowed down by the other teams, by the FIA and by the commercial rights holder and so I very much understand that dynamic. The second point is that we as a team, we took it the right way in a sportsmanship and I remember Howell who runs the engine group now, to say OK, if that’s it, then we will be running qualifying mode all through the race next year and it’s maybe sometimes you need this extra motivation to push yourself over the limits and like Cyril said, there may be an advantage of this TD for us, we will see how much we lose in relative performance to the other teams but we are certainly sure that we will gain a lot of race time on Sundays, because we can simply run the engine much harder. The damage matrix of not running qualifying modes in qualifying allows us to stretch the limit much more in the race and that brings a lot of race time so let’s see what it is, I don’t want to set expectations too high but on Sunday we will have a clearer picture.