Toto Wolff

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Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff 2014.jpg
Wolff in 2014
Born
Torger Christian Wolff

(1972-01-12) 12 January 1972 (age 47)
Vienna, Austria
NationalityAustrian
OccupationTeam principal & CEO of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Net worthCHF400m–450m (Dec 2017)[1]
PredecessorNorbert Haug
Spouse(s)Susie Wolff (m. 2011)
Children3

Torger Christian "Toto" Wolff[2] (born January 12, 1972) is an Austrian investor and former racing driver. He holds a 30% share in Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula One Team and is Team Principal and CEO of the team. He was formerly a shareholder of Williams F1.[3][4]

Wolff began his motorsport career in the Austrian Formula Ford Championship and the German Formula Ford Series. He won his category in the 1994 24 Hours Nürburgring and later competed in the FIA GT Championship and Italian GT Championship.

As an investor, Wolff founded Marchfifteen in 1998 and Marchsixteen Investments in 2004, initially focusing on Internet and technology companies. He specialises in strategic investments in medium-sized industrial and listed companies, which have included Williams F1 and German HWA AG.

Early life[edit]

Wolff was born on 12 January 1972 in Vienna to a Polish mother and an Austrian father of Romanian origin.[5] Wolff was educated in a French school in Vienna despite not coming from a wealthy family. Wolff's father was diagnosed with brain cancer when Wolff was eight years old. His parents separated following his father's diagnosis. His father died of the disease during Wolff's adolescence.[6]

Motorsport[edit]

Wolff started his motorsport career in 1992 in the Austrian Formula Ford Championship, driving in Austrian and German Formula Ford in 1993 and 1994. In 1994, he won the 24 Hours Nürburgring in his category. In 2002 Wolff finished in sixth place in the N-GT category in the FIA GT Championship and won one race. He switched to the Italian GT Championship in 2003, winning a race in 2004 with Lorenzo Case, while also teaming with Karl Wendlinger in the FIA GT Championship.[7] Wolff was runner up in the Austrian Rally Championship in 2006, and winner of the 24-hour race in Dubai.[8] Wolff has also served as an instructor at the Walter Lechner Racing School and in 2009 became a lap-record holder on the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a Porsche RSR.[9]

Investor[edit]

Wolff founded investment companies Marchfifteen (1998) and Marchsixteen (2004), both of which initially focused on internet and technology company investments.

Since 2003, Wolff has concentrated on strategic investments in medium-sized industrial and listed companies.[10] Investments include the German HWA AG, in which Wolff bought a 49% stake in 2006[11] listing the company on the stock exchange in 2007.[12] The company runs the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters race program for Mercedes Benz, developing F3 engines and the Gullwing Mercedes Benz SLS GT3 racing car.

Other investments include BRR Rallye Racing, one of the largest rally parts dealers in Europe. Wolff is also co-owner of a sports management company with Mika Häkkinen and was involved in the management of racing drivers such as Bruno Spengler, Alexandre Premat and Valtteri Bottas.[13]

Formula One[edit]

In 2009, Wolff bought a share of the Williams Formula One Team and joined the board of directors.[10] In 2012, he was named executive director of Williams F1[11] and the team took its last race win to date at that year's Spanish Grand Prix with Pastor Maldonado.

In January 2013, Wolff left Williams F1 to become an executive director of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team,[12] with his business partner Rene Berger becoming non-executive director. In addition to joining the team as managing partner,[14] he also acquired 30% of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd, with a further 10% held by Niki Lauda and 60% by the parent company.

Wolff took over the co-ordination of all Mercedes-Benz motorsport activities, a responsibility previously held by Norbert Haug. In 2014, Wolff sold 10% of Williams to American businessman Brad Hollinger.[3] On 9 March 2016, Wolff sold his remaining 5% shares in the Williams team.

As co-owner of both WilliamsF1 (where wife Susie worked as a test driver until November 2015) and Mercedes Grand Prix, Wolff celebrated numerous podiums and successes for both teams, such as a 1–2–3–4 finish at Spielberg, Austria in his 'home race', as well as at Monza, Italy, in both Qualifying and Race classifications.

In 2018, Mercedes won its fifth consecutive double world championship, equalling the all-time record set by Ferrari between 2000 and 2004. Only Wolff and FIA President Jean Todt have won five consecutive double world championships and Wolff's achievements were recognised through the presentation of a John Bolster Award from Todt at the 2018 Autosport Awards.[15] Wolff subsequently received the President's Award from Todt, along with team non-executive Chairman Niki Lauda, at the 2018 FIA Prize Giving Gala held in St Petersburg, Russia.[16]

In the five seasons since the introduction of the turbo hybrid regulations in 2014, Mercedes has won 77 of 103 races under Wolff’s leadership. The team has taken 86 of 103 pole positions, 53 front-row lockouts and 153 from 206 possible podium finishes. Since Wolff joined Mercedes in 2013, the team has achieved a remarkable winning percentage of 66%.[17]

2018 proved the most successful motorsport year in the history of Mercedes-Benz. The company won both F1 titles, F2 with George Russell,[18] European F3 with Mick Schumacher,[19] all three titles in its final season of DTM competition with Gary Paffett securing the drivers’ title,[20] both F1 eSports titles[21] and numerous championships in customer racing.

Management style[edit]

Wolff is the leading light of a new generation of Formula One team principals as an empowered managing partner of Mercedes F1, capitalising on his previous careers as an amateur racing driver and successful investor. As a keen student of both management theory and psychology, Wolff has encouraged the growth of a unique team dynamic within Mercedes F1, fostering a no-blame culture that has enabled five seasons of continuous improvement at the pinnacle of the sport.

"You need to achieve a safe environment where people dare to point at their own shortcomings and mistakes," Wolff has explained. “If the leaders are able to admit their own shortcomings, suddenly you create that culture where everybody is able to admit that next time around you can do it better. You mustn’t blame the person, you blame the problem.”[22]

Wolff manages the Mercedes team using a methodology of empowerment derived from Prussian military principles espoused by Helmuth von Moltke and termed "Auftragstaktik".[23] The management culture of the team involves aligning the entire organisation behind a clear mission, vision and intent before cascading these into the organisation - and empowering individual team members to achieve those objectives with both responsibility and accountability. Using this methodology, the team has built great strength in depth, and has been capable of identifying and growing future leaders from within.

The intensely competitive environment of Formula One is also a valuable learning environment for dynamic organisational change. "You need to build a sustainable, dynamic organisation which reinvents itself every now and then and is a competitive part of the championship, able to deliver race-winning cars every season,"[24] Wolff has explained.

The Mercedes team has navigated both organisational and regulatory transitions - both traditionally triggers for a loss in sporting performance in Formula 1 - while maintaining the team's position at the front of the grid. “There is not one single area we are not looking at, either in the technical organization and the overall organization," said Wolff in late 2018 to the New York Times. "We are looking at where and how we can improve, at what’s missing to be a perfect organization, knowing we will never reach such a target.”[25]

His empathetic, dynamic leadership style has allowed him to build an environment to extract the maximum from diverse talents. During six seasons, he has built a remarkable partnership with five-time champion Lewis Hamilton, allowing the Briton to pursue creative passions away from the F1 environment in order to deliver optimum performance at the race weekends.

Wolff highlights transparency and 'tough love' as the key factors for building this relationship, saying that “even in the awkward moments we are discussing things and putting the finger in the wound”.[26] Reflecting on the growth of their partnership, he has said: "over time, over the years, we got to know each other better, we started to trust each other and the inconvenient truth is something that can be very helpful in helping you to achieve your objectives."[27]

Wolff also successfully led Mercedes through the combustible relationship between Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg prior to the later's sudden retirement in 2016, winning three constructors' and drivers' titles during the four seasons the drivers spent as team-mates. He has spoken at length about his management style in two long-form audio interviews: the Finding Mastery podcast with Michael Gervais and the official Formula 1 Beyond The Grid podcast.

Philanthropy[edit]

Wolff is vice chairman of the Mary Bendet Foundation, founded in memory of a school friend who was a role model for a generation of friends. The Foundation strives to make life better for underprivileged children. Its projects include improving living conditions in day-care centre, dormitories and playgrounds; creating joyful environments such as rehearsal studios; supporting talent by sponsoring scholarships; and inaugurating centres for blind and handicapped children to better prepare them for life in everyday society.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Wolff lives with his second wife, the Scottish racer Susie Wolff (née Stoddart) between homes in Oxfordshire, England and Ermatingen at Lake Constance, Switzerland.[29] On 11 April 2017, Susie announced on Twitter that she had given birth to their first child the previous day.[30]

Wolff speaks fluent German, English, French, Italian, and Polish. He has two children from a previous marriage.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1], SFR.CH; bilanz.ch, December 2017
  2. ^ Enzinger, Gerald (10 November 2010). "Der Toto-Gewinner". Wiener Post (in German). Styria Media Group. Archived from the original on 14 March 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Mercedes boss Toto Wolff sells off shares in Williams". bbc.com. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  4. ^ Patnaude, Art (2016-03-09). "Toto Wolff Sells Remaining Stake in Williams F1 Team". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
  5. ^ Silbermann, Eric (2016-09-04). "Breakfast with ... Toto Wolff". F1i.com. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  6. ^ "Toto Wolff: Risk, Innovation, Winning | Finding Mastery". Finding Mastery. 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  7. ^ fiagt.com: Driver Biography: Toto Wolff Archived 2014-07-28 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ 24-series.com: Duller Motorsport wins first 24 hourrace of the Middle-East
  9. ^ https://www.spiegel.de/auto/aktuell/nuerburgring-rekorde-die-zehn-schnellsten-nordschleifen-runden-a-635476-7.thml. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ a b Autosport.com: Williams sells stake in team
  11. ^ a b "Williams shareholder Toto Wolff becomes executive director". Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  12. ^ a b "F1: Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team shareholder Toto Wolff embarks on new role". F1SA. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  13. ^ "The new Bernie? - Paddock Magazine". www.thepaddockmagazine.com. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  14. ^ Sylt, Christian. "Meet The Man Who Steers Lewis Hamilton To Victory". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  15. ^ Errington, Tom. "Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff receives John Bolster Award". Autosport.com. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  16. ^ "Hamilton and Mercedes receive their title trophies at the FIA Prize Giving ceremony".
  17. ^ Straw, Edd. "Why Mercedes is now F1's fifth-greatest team - F1 - Autosport Plus". Autosport.com. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  18. ^ Duncan, Phil (2018-11-24). "Briton George Russell wins Formula Two title in Abu Dhabi". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  19. ^ "Wolff: Mick Schumacher can become one of the greats". ESPN.com. 2018-10-15. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  20. ^ Simmons, Marcus. "DTM Hockenheim: Gary Paffett takes title as Rene Rast wins final race". Autosport.com. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  21. ^ "Mercedes takes the double in F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series | Formula 1®". www.formula1.com. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  22. ^ "Insight: How Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff avoids "combat mode" in tense team situations". James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1. 2018-06-20. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  23. ^ "Moltke – Master of Modern Management | The European Financial Review | Empowering communications globally". www.europeanfinancialreview.com. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  24. ^ Sylt, Christian. "Meet The Man Who Steers Lewis Hamilton To Victory". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  25. ^ Parkes, Ian (2018-09-14). "A 'Fabulous Fight' Is Going Down to the Wire in F1". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  26. ^ Richards, Giles (2018-10-06). "Toto Wolff: 'Lewis Hamilton is such a complex individual"". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  27. ^ "Toto Wolff on Hamilton, Lauda and leading Mercedes". Formula1.com.
  28. ^ "Mary Bendet Foundation". marybendetfoundation.com. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  29. ^ "Susie Stoddart and Toto Wolff married". Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. ITR e.V. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  30. ^ "Susie Wolff on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  31. ^ "Half-Polish, half-Romanian and speaking 6 languages – Breakfast with Toto Wolff".