Wolff ready to make changes at Mercedes

F1 Fanatic round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Jerez, 2013In the round-up: Toto Wolff says he won’t hesitate to make changes if he thinks Mercedes aren’t making progress.

The Circuit 2013

The Circuit 2013 is being run to raise money for the NSPCC. Six teams will battle it out to be crowned champions of The Circuit 2013, led by celebrity captains including former Formula One driver Mark Blundell, former English Rugby Union players Austin Healey and Will Carling, TV chefs Gino D’Acampo and James Martin, British Army veteran Simon Weston OBE and Dutch racing driver Robin Frijns.

Every guest will drive each of these performance cars to their fullest potential, flat out, with no limits and awards for the fastest drivers: Formula Jaguar single seater, Ariel Atom 3, BMW M3 GTP, Palmer Jaguar JP-LM, Caterham 7 Superlight, Land Rover defender and Sodi Karts.

Tickets are priced at ??1,500 and include exclusive use of the PalmerSports Bedford Autodrome venue with full day hospitality including a seated lunch. There will also be an auction with fabulous sporting prizes and the chance to win super drives with the celebrity drivers.

To secure your place please email sports-team@nspcc.org.uk or call 020 7825 2937.

All funds raised from the event will help the NSPCC to protect children all year round through its projects and services including ChildLine ?ǣ the UK?s free, confidential 24-hour helpline and online service for children and young people in distress or danger.


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Toto Wolff Q&A – I’ll do everything to make Mercedes successful (F1)

“I have been here for two weeks but nobody cares whether I?ve been here one year or one week. I have taken up the responsibility so it is important to get a feeling for the people, and I have a good feeling for most of them. If it is not going in the direction I want, I will implement the structure that I think will work.”

Kingfisher on verge of collapse as banks recall ??1bn loan (The Telegraph)

“Concerns over the future of Kingfisher Airlines escalated as bank lenders said they could begin calling in 85bn Rupees (??1.02bn) of loans to the airline, declaring that the carrier’s founder Vijay Mallya had been ??given enough time to repay.”

Glock: Marussia to struggle with rookies (Autosport)

“It’s definitely not going to be easy for them, especially in testing, where you need to be able to make the right decisions in pinpointing the weaknesses of the car. That’s something that only comes from experience.”

German bank?s ??500m blunder over F1 shares (City AM)

“One of Germany?s most bailed-out banks turned down the chance to make hundreds of millions of pounds in profits by buying a 10 per cent stake in Formula One at a bargain price of ??63.3m ($100m), according to recently released legal filings.”

F1’s Testing Times (Huffington Post)

“Every day on track we work two shifts of mechanics, engineers and truckies (what we call the lads who do all the setting up, packing down and maintenance of the garage and trucks on track): a night crew who start at around 1800 and will work through to around 0800 the next day, and the day crew who run the car while the sun is up, but start and finish their days in the dark.”

Interview with F1 race winner and WEC star Giancarlo Fisichella (Dominik Wilde Motorsport)

“I?ve known Pedro [de la Rosa] for many years now. I think that one more driver and one with his experience will be good for the work of the team. He has a lot of experience with other teams and particularly on the simulator.”


Comment of the day

@Magnificent-Geoffrey on the standard of drivers in F1 today:

I truly think we?re living through the Golden Age right now. I think the sheer talent and ability we had on the grid over 2010/11/12 was stronger than any other period in F1???s history, including the late 60???s and the mid-to-late 80???s.

Many years from now, future F1 fans will look back at the current era with even greater awe than we do on the eras of old.

From the forum

Site updates

A few minor changes have been made to the site to improve the appearance and functionality of different parts. I’m pleased to say the old 404 cartoon page designed by Gurmit has made a reappearance – hopefully it’s not something you’ll come across very often!

Thanks also to everyone who’s kept me abreast of a problem where some users have been incorrectly shown as having logged out when they haven’t. This has proved a tricky fault to track down and I’m grateful as always to Ed for his help. If you experience this problem at all do let us know via the contact form or forum thread.

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today.

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Two drivers whose F1 careers were cut tragically short were born on Valentine’s Day.

Mexican Ricardo Rodrguez was born today in 1942 but was killed just 20 years later while practising for his country’s first non-championship Grand Prix.

Popular Swedish driver Ronnie Peterson was born two years after Rodriguez on the same day. He won races for Lotus and March and had returned to the former team in 1978 when he lost his life following a crash at Monza.

Image ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei

80 comments on “Wolff ready to make changes at Mercedes”

  1. Nice photo of Heikki with his country fellow!

    In other news…

    If it is not going in the direction I want, I will implement the structure that I think will work.”

    Well, it looks like Wolff is ready to accept the challenge as it is. Being a shareholder changes your point of view of course. If he feels the team course is about to affect the company, he will trully do what it takes. It would be great to see other teams doing the same when things go bad (and mad).

    1. I’d say that is pretty accurate what you write about Wolff and being a share holder.

  2. Wolff and Lauda will make things a lot worse. Mark my words. If they are allowed to pry their noses into everything they don’t have the slightest idea about, Merc might not be on the grid come 2014.

    1. I see no reason to predict doom and gloom. Wolff was the man who spear-headed Williams’ public floatation on the stock market, and was part of their board when they restructured at the end of 2011 and bounced back from a poor season to win a race.

      1. spear-headed Williams’ public floatationspear-headed Williams’ public floatation

        Am not sure if you can really label that either a success or a good thing for the team.

      2. I’d say the design team for the car was slightly more important in that situation.

    2. Why does everybody treat Toto Wolff with such negativity? This doom and gloom mentality has to stop, give the guy a chance to prove himself.
      The fact is, Toto is a businessman, and quite a successful one at that. You dont rock up and buy into an F1 team if you dont have some serious money behind you. So, he knows how to make money, which would imply he is reasonably bright person. In F1, making money is pretty much proportinal to winning, so he will do the his best to make sure team is making money or winning if you’d like.
      Cant say much about what Niki Lauda is exepected to do, hope he knows what is exepected of him.

      1. @jaymenon10 – I think people see him as being like the Hollywood producer that gets up on the stage at the Oscars to collect an award. Nobody’s really sure of who he is or what he did to make the film, but there he is, collecting the award and the credit. Likewise, nobody is certain exactly what it is that Wolff was doing at Williams, and nobody is certain exactly what it is that he will be doing at Mercedes, but he’s clearly in a position of significant influence.

        And the fact that his wife is Williams’ test driver in spite of her performances in other racing categories – rather than because of them – doesn’t help his image.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys

          Most of the time, these people who’s roles are shaded with mystery usually turn out to be pretty important. Wolff’s role is a mystery to us, to be honest its none of our business. Merc are a multinational corporation, who are pretty good at what they do, so they must have an idea of how to manage an organization…and maybe they are realizing the errors of their ways under the previous management who perhaps was given a little bit more of a free reign?

          I think he will shake the tree if things dont go well. There are too many cooks in the Merc kitchen for now..and he will look to trim it down…maybe thats what he has been brought in to do?

          1. Most of the time, these people who’s roles are shaded with mystery usually turn out to be pretty important.

            Oh, I understand that. But I think people dislike him because they don’t know much about him – nobody knew who he was before he took a position on Williams’ executive board. He wasn’t one of those people who was always in the paddock for years before he took his position at Mercedes; he just arrived from nowhere. And I think people don’t trust that about him, however qualified or competent he might be.

      2. The fact is, Toto is a businessman, and quite a successful one at that.

        I don’t see it as something worthy of respect or admiration. Making money doesn’t mean you are “reasonably bright”. It helps, but it’s not a prerequisite. Take a look at Donald Trump, for example. He comes out as quite dim, but he knows how to make money. There are more important factors than intelligence involved: personal ambition, selfishness, flexible moral backbone, ability to kiss butts of those who can grant you favors, ability to exploit others and to disregard the wellbeing of those below you.

        Now, I’m not saying that all businessmen are sleazy, unethical bastards and I’m certainly not saying that Toto is. I’m just saying that I have no respect for his “profession”. I also think that Prisoner Monkeys is right, we don’t really know who Toto is or what’s his job. We know is that he made his wife a development driver for Williams, while she did little to deserve it, so he doesn’t shy away from nepotism.

        Also, we didn’t really see him express any genuine emotion, ever. He acts and talks like a robot. He says he wants to be friends with Lewis and Nico, but he frames it like this: “I am really looking forward to establishing nice relationships with two personalities of the sport”. Come on. He would probably fail the Turing test with lines like that ;)

        1. This is such a great comment!

        2. Well said, Maroon Jack. Thanks for articulating what I was thinking – the ability to make money is in no way dependent solely or even principally on intelligence and certainly not on the benevolent or ethical use of such talents like intelligence or efficiency. The Robber Barons were called “robbers” for a reason!

  3. “If it is not going in the direction I want, I will implement the structure that I think will work.”

    sounds like code for

    “If we’re not winning, it’s Ross Brawn I’ll be sacking.”

    1. yep, pretty much.

    2. Yes, I think that’s an accurate corporate-to-English translation.

    3. I don’t like this, Merc sacking Brawn is like Red Bull sacking Newey. It’s just not right.

      1. But then… Newey can’t be acused of failing to deliver.

        I don’t want to see Brawn go personally, and I doubt Lewis does either seeing as working with him was one of the things that drew him to the team.

        1. Newey was failing to deliver for some 10 years straight. McLaren was going backwards from 98, until they hit the rock bottom in 2004. In 2005 they were all of a sudden a challenger, but in 2006 they didn’t win a single race!
          In Red Bull, it was only in 2009 that they took a first win and only in 2010 did they finally win the championship. And he needed a huge regulations change in order to get ahead of Ferrari and McLaren.
          That’s right, Newey’s cars didn’t win a title for 11 years!

          Between 99 and 2010, how many races did his cars win?
          2000, 2001 less then 10. 2002 – 2004 5 races or less. In 3 years! 2005 was very good, but then 2006, 2007 and 2008 zero wins in 3 years. Only in 2009 after both top teams were handicapped by fighting a season long battle, did he mange to get on top with Red Bull, but he didn’t win championship then either. It was won by Brawn. Brawn who’s teams won more then 50% of championships in the last 20 years. 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009.

  4. As if you haven’t made enough changes, Merc.

    How many car designers do you need anyway? Ross Brawn, Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis, Bob Bell, Mike Elliot, and now they are luring Allison from Lotus as well as Pady Lowe from Mclaren. Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mclaren only have two technical directors each, and have shown that even with less chefs in the kitchen, a winning car can and will be build.

    Mercedes, IMO, is simply an unstable team.

    1. Maybe their strategy is to handicap the rest of the field by hiring all the designers for themselves? ;-)

      1. Well, so far they have picked all the wrong ones then if that is their strategy; because everyone else is still winning…

    2. yes. it reminds me of Toyota. They had a huge budget and were able to lure respectable drivers and designers from other teams. There was a lot of hype around them before they entered and a lot was expected. But i think it was their corporate mentality that prevented more success. They were a company not a racing team.

      I know that Mercedes is different and that they have a history of success in motor racing. But i cant help feeling that they are a company first and an F1 team second. The Brackley team had their most successful season when they were independent. As Honda they were dismal and as Mercedes they’re a letdown.

      What you need is for the manufacturer to provide the resources, and let the F1 team do the job. If the shareholder starts dictating who should do what in a racing team, they are doomed.

  5. I have read a couple of stories in recent years about people in Frank Lecerf’s predicament. Makes you wonder why he didn’t just switch off the ignition …………..

    1. The story states that the guy is a disabled person with modded car – we do not know the details of these modifications, so it might not be so straightforward as it seems.

    2. According to some reports I have seen, on some models you cannot switch off if the car is in motion. And on other models switching off locks the steering.

      1. I once drove a Renault. You could pull the key card out of its slot while driving. Nothing happens.

        1. Sounds like a technical glitch. An older car that actually relied on mechanics might fare better. Just press the clucth down, sorted. Though like Sherlock points out, he had a modded car so who knows what he was able to do. I’d like to think the technician on the line with the police would have thought up these simple solutions we have come up with…

    3. As written by other posters here, and highlighted in the link keith posted, that car had a specially modified car to suit his disability, so it really does not have to be as simple as shutting it down.

      Another thing to remember is, that it said each time he tried braking, it accelerated instead. So he could not slow down. And when you cut the ignition that also means an end to all power steering and other electronics, probably the automatic gear shift module as well, etc. so it would be very dangerous to do so even if at all possible while going at such a speed

  6. Don’t wanna be that guy, but first sentence.

    “In the round-up: Toto Wolff says he won’t hesitate to make changes if he thinks Mercedes aren’t making progress.”

    I think “aren’t” should be “Isn’t”. Since its about the team as a whole and not about multiple mercedes.

    1. Collective noun

      1. It is indeed a collective noun but as it is referring to the team as a single entity that is not performing (as a whole), it should be considered singular in this case.

    2. As a non-native speaker, I actually found it interesting to research this particular topic a few months ago. As I now understand, this is one of the differences between British English and American English. This is what one website says:

      In British English collective nouns, (i.e. nouns referring to particular groups of people or things), (e.g. staff , government, class, team) can be followed by a singular or plural verb depending on whether the group is thought of as one idea, or as many individuals.
      In American English collective nouns are always followed by a singular verb […] whereas in British English both plural and singular forms of the verb are possible.


      1. Thanks for that. As an Englishman, I love being told how to speak English by people like Aaron Andino who, I suspect, aren’t.

        1. I was not telling anyone how to speak english. I was simply offering my opinion on what I read and how it sounded odd to me. I am indeed not British and, as an American, I don’t mind being taught how to speak the Queen’s English by people like JonChuckle who, I suspect, isn’t. ;)

      2. Thanks for that, I did a little research and it seemed that “isn’t” was “correct” but from your information I understand thats the difference between British and American english. I appreciate the insight, its quite an interesting thing.

        1. @zhunterzz You’re welcome! I believe that there is nothing wrong about discussing the English grammar here, round-ups are made for wide range of topics after all.

    3. For everybody in this debate I recommend you turn to “Column 8″ of the Sydney Morning Herald “smh.com.au” you will be with many like minded individuals.

      1. Just to be sure I understood it right, I had a look at that @hohum :-)

  7. Kingfisher on verge of collapse as banks recall £1bn loan & The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Wednesday cracked down on Sahara group, freezing more than 100 bank accounts of two of its companies. Sources said that the immovable assets of the two companies were also frozen.

    both sahara & mallya are facing serious problems.

    1. Yes, quite possible one of the reasons of why the team have not yet announced their 2nd driver that. With both Mallya and Roy occupied to keep their empires standing and all.

    2. jimscreechy (@)
      14th February 2013, 7:07

      Mallya’s empire has been experincing structural failings for years. The cracks in the foundation were simply plastered, painted and largely ignored while the opulent exterior was revered and admired. Now, (IMO) it is crumbling around his feet while every one stands aghast wondering how it could have happend… reminds me of Enron. Lets hope some rich Arab or Russian with a passion for motorsport is available to save Force Indian when he files for bankruptcy.

      1. If these Scorpion guys do have any money behind them, It would be better spent acquiring a stake in Force India than buying the sorry leftover that is a defunct HRT.
        On the other hand, Bernie has been known to work behind the scenes a lot to keep India involved in F1, so maybe that is behind him
        a. saying there are no teams that are in danger now
        b. the rumours about TATA getting involved at FI (something that never was realistic when Mallya was left to decide, somehow)

        1. @bascb

          (something that never was realistic when Mallya was left to decide, somehow)

          I think Mallya is, in some ways, cut from the same cloth as Flavio Briatore. Perhaps he doesn’t take it to the extremes that Braitore did, but I do see the similarities.

          I always got the feeling that Briatore thought that he was just as big a star – if not an even bigger – than his drivers. Fernando Alonso wasn’t a double World Champion because of his talent; Fernando Alonso was a double World Champion because Flavio Braitore recognised his talent and gave him a chance when no-one else would.

          I see some of that in Mallya: Force India is as much about him as it is his drivers. I’ve heard talk – nothing confirmed – that he has looked for any excuse he can find to block Indian drivers from joining Force India so that they don’t take the spotlight off him.

          1. I’ve heard talk – nothing confirmed – that he has looked for any excuse he can find to block Indian drivers from joining Force India so that they don’t take the spotlight off him.

            And where did you hear this? Standing in the paddock talking to Bernie, when Ross Brawn passed by and mentioned this? :)

            I suppose you read it somewhere, so a link would be nice. :)

            Because, I don’t think he needs an “excuse” not to hire Narain or Karun. I’m not saying they are bad, probably are better then people give them credit, but with some other drivers eager to race for FI, I don’t think they are being skipped because of some personal, rather then professional reasons.

    3. My understanding is that Force India is actually pretty insulated from Kingfisher’s problems.

      1. yes, but if both Mallya and Roy are having to sell off assets, it might be amongst the ones they do want to sell.

        1. Its only the Kingfisher airlines that is struggling. The liquor and beer business is still profitable and doing well. Even if Kingfisher airlines go bankrupt, Mallaya will still be left with billions. Whether or not he pulls the plug on F1 is another question.

          1. From all what I have seen about the whole mess, its not only the Kingfisher airlines that is struggling by far.

            First of all the guy behind Sahara is in trouble as well with his cashflow. And when Mallya himself has banks taking his residence as collateral for loans, as well as stock in the the Kinfisher liquor and beer imperium they had as collateral, Mallya will have to look at what to sell. After all, if he loses his beer imperium he will lose most of the things that enable him to spend money on F1. So instead it would be wiser to part with the team and keep a share of the liquor business (and his residence?).

          2. jimscreechy (@)
            14th February 2013, 19:08

            Actually, the Liquor business was also in debt until Diageo bought the controllling intrest in the business.

  8. In other news, Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Racing Australia (the Triple Eight V8 Supercar team formerly known as TeamVodafone) are set to “integrate”, whatever that means.

    I’m mostly just posting this because I liked the way team manager Adrian Burgess refers to the deal as “joining the mothership”.

    1. RedBull related – there are 3 new ‘editions’ of RedBull energy drink on sale; a blue one, a silver one and a red one. I like to think they are a nod to the three best teams in F1 just now. ;)

      1. @calum

        I tried the red one recently and it was aweful. That marketing sheme makes sense now. I supposed the silver one tastes terrible as well.

        1. HAHAHAHAHA!

        2. The silver one is super effective to begin with, but often ends with the drinkers body failing them completely, leaving them sat helplessly as the rest of life passes by them.

    2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      14th February 2013, 5:04

      Mr. Red Bull has done very well for himself.

    3. So in effect Red Bull bought them.

      Maybe planning Mark’s future?

      1. I’m a big Lowndes fan but not a Red Bull fan at all, this really upsets me as i don’t know if i’ll be able to still cheer for him…

      2. Sort of. The team was looking for a new sponsor at the end of last year, when Vodafone decided not to renew their sponsorship in both V8 Supercars and the cricket. There had been some attempts to get Red Bull into the sport before – they were a personal sponsor of Rick Kelly – but they had previously said that they only wanted to sponsor a top team.

    4. I’d translate this as, “instead of working with Vodafone-sponsored McLaren, we will now work with Red Bull-owned Red Bull.

      1. @journeyer – True, but they didn’t really have a choice. Vodafone Australia terminated all of their sports sposnorship programs last year. That’s what led to talk that Vodaone would be leaving McLaren this year as well, but that arrangement is organised by Vodafone’s parent company, not their regional operations the way the Triple Eight sponsorship is.

    5. A future for Mark ?

      1. @bascb, I see you were way ahead of me, should have read to the bottom before posting.

      2. Webber’s already made it clear that he doesn’t want to enter V8 Supercars. And even if he wanted to, there’s something of a backlog – it’s going to take a lot for Whincup or Lowndes to leave the team (though Whincup has implied on occasion that he might like to try his hand racing overseas if the right opportunity presents itself), and Triple Eight have established an informal satellite team in Lucas Dumbrell Motorsports. If ever a vacancy became available at Triple Eight, one of Dumbrell’s drivers would likely take the place.

        Webber moving to V8 Supercars and stepping straight into a Triple Eight car is about as unlikely as Whincup moving to Formula 1 and stepping straight into a Red Bull.

        1. Well as Manuel said ” I know nothing” and MW has made it plain that he enjoys his life in England and as he is a paid driver and seems sensible he can probably retire and potter around the garden, but if he wanted a top seat in V8 Supercars I think he would find one pretty easily.

  9. Reading Frijn’s name up in the opening section of the roundup (great idea to help a charity by the way) brought this interview with Verstappen to mind (so far only in Dutch) where he mentions that in his opinion Frijn’s management should have made Sauber help him get a drive in some kind of cars as part of the contract negotiations. It does seem that this drive has been helped by the powers that be (or maybe through Sauber’s connection with Chelsea?) helped, after all while he is a champion, it sounds funny to hear him named amongst celebrity captains.

    Apart from the fact that it sounds more as a bit of a dig at said management, and its unclear what options there were in negotiation, thats an interesting notion.

  10. am i reading it wrong? are tickets 1500 for the charity event? not something normal people can enjoy and help raise money for then.

  11. Now reading that interview with Fisi, nice to hear he is happy (winning at Le Mans must be an achievement of a different category), I like his approach to his helmet design:

    Fisichella tells me that there’s no special theme behind his helmet design ‘it’s just a design I liked and that I wanted to stay always the same on my helmets’.

    1. Glad you like it :)

      1. I read a nice interview you did a couple of days back too. Keep them coming @dominikwilde

  12. I totally agree with @Magnificent-Geoffrey on the quality of the current grid but I don’t think that the number of champions is what determines it. For instance, would we be saying that the presence of Massa, not the presence of Hamilton proves the greatness of the actual driver line-up if Hamilton hadn’t managed to overtake Glock in the final metres of the 2008 Brazilian GP? It’s the current performance level that tells you how great the drivers are, not their past achievements and Hamilton isn’t great because he narrowly won the world championship in 2008, it’s his ability to consistently get the most out of the car that gives him this status.

    I also don’t think that the upcoming generations will necessarily be worse than the current crop of F1 drivers. The quality of drivers is generally determined by two factors: their talent and their fitness level. The business model of F1 must ensure that lack of money doesn’t stop the most talented drivers on their way to F1 and that they always have to train hard to stay competitive, then we will see even more competitive driver line-ups in the future.

    1. Much as I respect Mag-Geoff I do not think you can make these comparisons, I think of drivers of an earlier era who not only won F1 races but simultaneously (same year,not minute) won in F2 ,sports cars and Indianapolis , and some that won championships in cars of their own design, Brabham and McLaren etc. and drivers like John Surtees who is both a MotoGP and F1 champion.

  13. I think that golden era, which @Magnificent-Geoffrey is talking about is coming to an end, because every year there more and more pay drivers coming to F1, replacing much better ones. We already lost Kovalainen, Glock, Sutil (I hope he comes back to FI) because they money was more significant factor than talent. Half of the grid consists of pay drivers, which are crashing all over the place (Maldonado). And I expect more incidence this year.

    1. Sutil was replaced by Hulkenberg, he didn’t lose his seat to “money”

  14. In the HuffPost article, Tom Webb writes: “It’s hard work, carried out in often freezing conditions and with little visible results to motivate a tired workforce.” Bizarre statement, but…

    That got me wondering what the coldest F1 GP ever was. Ideas anyone?

  15. Hopefully Merc can gain some ground this upcoming season!

    1. It’s going to be interesting seeing them compete regardless of where they are on the grid. With Lewis being on the team Nico is going to rise to the challenge. I think the competition within the team will energize the entire team to produce a car that is competitive with the top three or four teams.
      I hope this happens because it will make for a super year.

  16. Comment of the day ,can you just look at the grid on the 1970 german G.P. you tube and then watch the race ,spend a moment to think on. True there are many talented drivers today but certainly equalled easily then.

  17. And there were 9 WDC’s on the grid.

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