He's presided over one of the most successful F1 teams of all time - and had to manage one of the most heated rivalries in history. So what exactly makes Mercedes chief Toto Wolff tick? On this week's episode of Beyond The Grid, presented by Bose, the thoughtful Austrian lifts the lid on the realities of running a team - including dealing with the 'volcano-like' relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg...
“You realise that both of them are complete Alpha drivers – both of them want to win the world championship, neither of them are slotted in as a number two,” explains Wolff. “It is a little bit like a volcano that has started to shake and then eventually erupt. Every single controversy grew into something bigger and that became quite a distraction for the team to manage.
“Because we are humans it always gets complicated emotionally because at times you like one [driver] more than the other – and that is completely normal.
“But I had a conversation with Alain Prost back in 2014 and it gave me a good learning. I asked him the question about what went wrong between him and [Ayrton] Senna. How two great drivers saw their relationship break down and end with collisions on track.
“He said the biggest problem for him was the transparency of the management. They never knew what the agenda of the senior management of McLaren was. You never knew if you were in or out, if you were the flavour of the month or not, whether there were politics against you or not.
“What I tried to implement very early on in the team was the ultimate transparency – we talk about things. Sometimes it’s the inconvenient truth – things you don’t want to hear. But 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”.
In a wide-ranging conversation with host Tom Clarkson, Wolff also provides an update on the health of his right-hand man, Niki Lauda, gives unparalleled insight into Lewis Hamilton’s development, discusses his remarkable journey to F1 via the business world, and much, much more.
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