Toto Wolff: “People are flabbergasted by how intelligent Lewis is”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says drivers need pure focus and intelligence to succeed in Formula 1 today, as there’s “no chance to live the James Hunt life any more”.

In an interview with the Daily Mail Toto Wolff was asked if old school Formula 1 personalities, the ‘playboys’ and partygoers, can succeed in the sport today.

“No chance,” the Austrian said.

“You couldn’t be a Formula 1 driver now and be unintelligent. There are many examples where great talent failed because it lacked intelligence. Some that didn’t even make it into Formula 1.

“In my junior racing career there were one or two that definitely had the skill but didn’t comprehend the all-round environment.

“One works in go-karts now as a mechanic. He still loves his job, but I think he should have been Austria’s greatest driver. There was an unbelievable guy who used to beat Lewis, but got into drugs.

“Today, to make it as a Formula 1 driver you can’t leave any blanks. It is not just about driving fast. You’ve got to be a little bit of a daredevil, but courage isn’t all. You need to be so much more complete, as driver, athlete and personality.


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“You need to be intelligent to engage in all the discussions, you need to be socially intelligent to play the paddock, the opinion makers, the decision makers, to play that to your advantage.

“Even the toughest people, the ones who run the series, the team bosses, are still human. The best drivers know how to manoeuvre through the field, even from junior years.

“It’s social intelligence. They never miss those opportunities. Only the drivers who are all-round capable will make it to the top.

“When you speak to Lewis or Max, when you speak to Sebastian Vettel, you would be surprised how switched on they are.

“Not Oxford University degrees, but just smart. There is no chance to live the James Hunt life any more.

“People are flabbergasted by how intelligent Lewis is sometimes,” concluded Mercedes’ team boss.

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