“I was really beating myself up”– Toto Wolff thought of quitting F1 last year and return to finance, but the love of racing won over him.
Last year, Mercedes displayed one of the most dominating campaigns in the history of Formula 1, with no team in the sight to contend for the championship.
Under Wolff’s leadership, the team also gave the greatest car of all time- W11. Everything was perfect, but Wolff also saw it as a possible end to his time in F1 and thought of returning to Finance.
Asked by ESPN if he thought of leaving Formula 1 during this time, Wolff replied: “Often. Last year I was really beating myself up to come to a decision of whether I wanted to go back in finance and have a hedge fund or continue with my private investment company or stay in motor racing. In the end, motor racing won.”
So what compelled him to continue? Wolff revealed that the near to perfect score by his team became a benchmark for him, and to oust that he thought of continuing.
“I think it’s the sheer fact that the stopwatch never lies, you always have a benchmark,” he explained. “There are new challenges that are coming and that continue to develop the organization and the team into the next generation.
“It’s about diversifying the business while not distracting from racing – as a company we are growing at a tremendous rate. So it is a fact that we are a sports franchise,” he added.
“Only ten exist in a spectacular global sport, and with an enterprise that is Mercedes, that’s going to generate $550-600 million in revenue. We are not a small company anymore. But still, it all comes down to the lap time, always down to the stopwatch.”
Aimed to be the F1 boss
With his last contract coming to an end, Wolff thought of applying for the F1 CEO position, which was left vacant after Chase Carey’s departure. But it was eventually filled by Stefano Domenicali and Wolff got a better contract with Mercedes’ F1 team, hauling a third share of the team.
“The job appeals to everybody, but first of all, I think Stefano is the better CEO for such a company,” he explained. “He has been the CEO of Lamborghini, has run Scuderia Ferrari and obviously his role at Audi, and he is fantastic for that role.
“I enjoy being a co-shareholder and co-owner of the team that is a franchise and diversifying in many other interesting areas. So I have no regrets at all.
“I think Greg Maffei absolutely took the right decision to go for Stefano and he is better for that job than me.”