Wolff rejects Mercedes resignation calls: Time up for Toto?

Mercedes suffered a double DNF at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix further adding to Wolff's woes

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Toto Wolff has insisted his leadership isn’t why Mercedes are struggling as the team hits an all-time low at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix by suffering a double DNF due to mechanical issues and driver error.

At the time of his Lap 58 DNF, George Russell was approximately 48 seconds behind Carlos Sainz as he frantically sought a way past Fernando Alonso, resulting in a last-lap crash. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton DNF’d on Lap 17 when his engine just shut off and he had to pull over to the side of the road.

The result marked Mercedes’ lowest period in Wolff’s reign as team principal, even though they’ve suffered double DNFs in the past, as they simply don’t have the performance to fight for wins at all. They’re a far cry from the team that dominated the 2020 season.

As a result, Wolff has faced calls to quit and pressure on his leadership whilst a series of key personnel from the engine department have left for new pastures. Even Hamilton will leave for Ferrari at the end of 2024, having lost faith in the team he was once so successful with.

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff embrace in the Mercedes garage at the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP | Sebastian Kawka / Mercedes F1 Team
Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff embrace in the Mercedes garage at the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP | Sebastian Kawka / Mercedes F1 Team

“When I look at the positives, which is we’ve taken many potential root causes out of the equation,” Wolff said to media after the race. “We weren’t sure about our suspension, we were unsure about the stiffness of our gearbox carrier, we had a vibrating steering rack, and all of those things have disappeared.

“But fundamentally, whatever we see in the tangle, doesn’t correlate with what’s happening on the track and it is not a single person that interprets that data in this way and because of a dogma, because of dogmatism. We’re not making any progress, but I don’t see dogmatism.

“I don’t think we are missing something; it is just a complication of what’s happening with the car that we can’t see and it’s like an on-off switch. Then you see, you know the progress that McLaren and Ferrari have made. And this is the difference between last year and this year. This was a pretty good weekend for us last year.”

Wolff outlines his management targets

Wolff oversaw one of the most dominant periods in F1 history between 2014-2020 when Mercedes won eight straight constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ titles as they were widely respected for their consistency and accountability as a team.

But in recent times, they have really struggled to find any form, despite changes being made to personnel such as their technical designers but nothing has worked, and the team seems increasingly lost in the wilderness and devoid of ideas.

So, has it crossed Wolff’s mind, after he signed an extension in January 2024, to step back after a decade to allow someone else to have a go? And what are his management aims and ambitions?

“I need to make sure that my contribution is positive and creative,” Wolff added. “So, I would be the first one to say, ‘If somebody has a better idea, tell me because I’m interested to turn this team around as quickly as possible.’

“I’ll happily give my input and see what that would be, or who that could be, but we have a physics problem, and not a philosophical or organizational problem. I look myself in the mirror every single day about everything I do.”

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