Wolff reveals he had ‘initial discussions’ over F1 job – but insists Domenicali is the right choice
Long mooted as a potential CEO of Formula 1, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted he did have “initial discussions” about the role, but insisted that Stefano Domenicali – who was named as Chase Carey’s successor last week – is the right man for the job.
Speaking on this week's F1 Nation podcast, Wolff was asked if he put his hat in the ring to become F1’s new President and CEO.
The Mercedes F1 chief replied: “No, I didn’t. I think everybody knows that there were some initial discussions with Greg [Maffei, Liberty Media CEO and President] and it never went anywhere.
“I think we get along well. I respect Greg Maffei a lot for what he has achieved but I love where I am and I found out that I love the stopwatch, so much, the competition and the racing, that where I am today, co-owner of the team with Mercedes – I have to pinch myself every day."
He then added: “And, at the end, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway because Ferrari wouldn’t have accepted that.”
And that didn’t seem to be a tongue-in-cheek remark from the Mercedes boss, either, as he was asked if he genuinely believed Ferrari would have blocked a move for him to become F1 boss.
“No, I know that!” he said. “That’s OK. They have this right and if you have that right it’s very easy to [veto an appointment]. I respected it. Absolutely. I would have probably had the same thoughts.”
Wolff was positive about Domenicali’s appointment but then revealed that their first encounter was a run-in in 2013 when Mercedes were found to have breached F1 rules on tyre testing – dubbed tyregate – when Domenicali was Ferrari boss.
“Great move from Liberty,” he said. “I think Stefano is a foremost a man with a great personality, integrity, and knowledge of the sport. He has been a sporting director, a team principal, has gone through difficult times and through successful times. [He] has been involved in the Audi Formula 1 project for a while, and at the end was the guy that led Lamborghini to tremendous performances – financial performances – and also, honestly, the cars are great. And I think he’s a very, very good choice for the role,” said Wolff.
“Our first proper encounter was in Monaco , where he protested us for tyregate, so… I’m still laughing with him about that. Not sure he’s my friend actually; his first action was protesting us! Since then we’ve had a very good relationship simply because of his personality. You just have to get on with him.”
So with speculation rife over his own position as Mercedes Team Principal, what does Wolff's future hold?
“As for my personal situation, it’s not only about extending an employment contract – I am co-owner and co-shareholder with Daimler – it’s about finding out how we want to shape the team going forward.
“And Ola Kallenius [Daimler chairman] and I are completely aligned. It just needs to be put down on paper,” concluded Wolff.