Formula 1 | Businessman Wolff could not lead Mercedes F1 without being a co-shareholder
A former driver and now team manager, Toto Wolff also has a past as a financier and investor – he also retains nearly a third of the shares of the Mercedes team in F1. He also graduated in economics from the University of Vienna and did an internship in investment banking in Warsaw.
In the past, this had also earned Toto Wolff criticism, Christian Horner calling him, for example, a simple businessman or a ‘money man’.
But for the Brackley and Brixworth boss, that versatility is actually a strength in running an F1 team. A management which implies knowing a radius of it on the financial level, much more than on the aerodynamic level in this strategic position of team manager.
“There are a lot of team managers in our sport who are just people with a single dimension or with a single profile, who lead teams very well, there are no two ways to do it, but you must have another vision in what you do. I believe that you can only be successful if you are able to put your own role, your own team and the sport in the perspective of the outside world. »
“I think my 20 years of experience in finance has helped me not only to grow, but also to make the team the business operation it is today. But I’m still learning. I’m 49 plus one, and I wonder where this trajectory will take me in the future. »
So don’t make Toto Wolff a simple financier: he also has a past as a racing driver, even if it was not at a very high level.
« There weren’t many inspiring things in my early childhood [marquée par un drame familial, ndlr]. But I discovered motor racing at the age of 17, when I went to see a friend compete on the Nürburgring circuit. I begged my mother to buy me lessons at flight school in exchange for my next ten birthday and Christmas presents, as well as to sell my own car to buy a Seat Ibiza to participate in the Seat Ibiza Cup. »
“I lacked the experience of karting, the possibilities and the tests, because there were not enough funds. That’s when I thought, « I’m not going to make it to the top in this sport. » »
Also very useful was the experience of Toto Wolff in San Francisco, in the world of technology. The boss has definitely lived several lives in one!
« In the mid to late 90’s the internet came along and I was in the States for a month or two, and I was interested in it, Netscape, America Online… »
“I came back to Europe and started investing a tiny bit of money or shares in these companies. And some of them have been quite successful. »
Ultimately, seeing Toto Wolff co-owner of Mercedes F1 is more than an opportunity or a coincidence: it fits well with his background.
“I wouldn’t do it without being a co-shareholder because I’m an entrepreneur, that’s how I operate. I must be able to develop the value of the company. »