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Toto Wolff’s Ego Got In the Way of Carlos Sainz’s Mercedes F1 Offer

Vidit Dhawan

Toto Wolff's Ego Got In the Way of Carlos Sainz's Mercedes F1 Offer

After Daniel Ricciardo, Toto Wolff seems to be the next target of 1998 F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve. The Canadian in a recent interview explained how the Austrian’s ego resulted in Mercedes’ failure to sign Carlos Sainz.

In an interview with Sky Sports Germany, Villeneuve said (as quoted by, “Toto Wolff does not allow any other solution than Antonelli. It has been decided. This is Antonelli’s team for the future. He has been preparing for this for years and Toto Wolff’s ego also plays a huge role in the decision in favor of Antonelli“.

According to the Canadian, Wolff is desperate to prove to the world that he was “right to support” Antonelli from when the Italian was just 12. Moreover, it is pertinent to note that Wolff himself admitted that his sole focus is to figure out a way to help Antonelli secure that Mercedes seat even if it means that he fails to sign Sainz.

We just want to concentrate on Kimi. That is our future, young drivers,” Wolff explained. “We want to commit to that, to young drivers and that is what we’ve told Carlos“. The primary reason why Wolff is desperate to sign Antonelli is because he lost out on the opportunity to sign Max Verstappen when the Dutchman was in F3.

Since Wolff at the time could only offer Verstappen a seat in F2 in one of his partner teams, Red Bull grabbed the opportunity and signed him at Toro Rosso. The rest is history, and there is no secret that Wolff made a huge blunder as a result.

Mercedes let go of Lewis Hamilton to sign Kimi Antonelli

Soon after Hamilton decided to snub Mercedes and sign a contract with Ferrari for 2025, Wolff claimed that the length of the contract he offered the Briton could have resulted in him jumping ship. The Austrian revealed that Mercedes only offered Hamilton a 1+1 year contract to keep the option of signing Antonelli in 2025 open.

During the same interview, the Mercedes team principal explained his rationale in offering Hamilton only a 1+1 year deal despite being aware that it would risk losing the seven-time champion to a rival. Wolff explained that he did not want to make the same mistake he made with Verstappen years ago.

Wolff told ORF (as quoted by Autosport), “There was a situation many years ago where we had the opportunity to let Max drive. And that wasn’t possible back then because we simply didn’t have a cockpit“.

Back then, Mercedes had Hamilton and Nico Rosberg tied for the long term. However, with Rosberg announcing his surprise retirement after winning the championship in 2016, the Silver Arrows had to find a replacement.

By then, it was too late for Wolff to sign Verstappen, who had already agreed terms with Toro Rosso. Hence, to avoid such a situation with Hamilton, Wolff preferred to opt for a bold move and focus on a stable line-up for the long term.

Post Edited By:Shreya Sanjeev

About the author

Vidit Dhawan

Vidit Dhawan


Vidit Dhawan is the F1 writer and Editor at The SportsRush. He fell in love with the sport at first sight when F1 visited India in 2011. The noise and the racing action from lights out and away we go to the chequered flag are what keeps him at the edge of his seat at all times. Vidit has been a lifelong Fernando Alonso fan and sees Charles Leclerc as the future of the sport. Other than F1, he also follows football and tennis closely.

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