Last year, Toto Wolff, one of the key figures behind Mercedes‘ success in Formula 1, missed a few racing events including the Japanese and Brazilian Grand Prix. This was not out of necessity, but an intentional action to let other members of the team take control and prove the strength of the Mercedes unit even in his absence.
This year Wolf’s absence from the recent race events in Suzuka and the Qatar Grand Prix was not by design but born out of medical necessity. A surgeon’s knife on his knee kept him away. He remained away yet actively involved, contrarily to speculations that he was in the shadows.
According to Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes‘ primary runner, Wolff is still very much part of the team’s everyday activities, regardless of his on-site absence. In a conversation with F1 Initiative, Hamilton debunked some former speculations by saying, “Toto’s in every meeting. I saw someone wrote the other day that he had to call in or something for the last race, which was BS”.
Hamilton then added that Wolff’s absence is purely physical, and he is profoundly affected that he can’t be present. He shared that Wolff participates in all the meetings, listening and addressing the team just as actively as he would if he were physically present.
Hamilton further expressed that Wolff’s contributions to Mercedes as a team are significant and well-recognized, emphasizing that Wolff deserves some time off, contrary to the belief that he is just escaping his responsibilities. Hamilton stated, “He’s worked incredibly hard to set up this team to be where it is today. And he should be able to have weekends off without a problem. He’s the boss. Shoot, if I owned the team, I’ll definitely take weekends off!”
Despite his chief’s physical absence from the racing event, Hamilton expressed positivity and assured him of a strong showing. He confidently told Wolff, “Don’t worry, you set up a great team, we’ll try do you proud this weekend.”
In Hamilton’s narrative, the camaraderie between him and Wolff is staunch. Outside their professional roles, they engage in normal friendly activities like having lunch and hanging out. He referred to Wolff not only as a team-mate but also a good friend. Hamilton spoke highly of Wolff’s profound influence on him on a personal level, appreciating the open-mindedness that allowed him to embrace his unique identity.
Hamilton further hinted at some imminent changes over the coming months going into the next year. With Wolff’s considerable contribution, he believes that their partnership has accomplished much more than similarly paired units in the sport, and it’s still evolving.