Wolff: No drop in 'fire, hunger and passion' at Mercedes

Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team principal. W12 launch March 2 2021.
© Mercedes

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says that the biggest challenge the reigning world champions face is to maintain that same momentum and drive for success year after year.

The German squad secured a record seventh consecutive constructors championship in 2020, and goes into the new season as runaway favourites to extend that run. But Wolff is keenly aware that there is no room for complacency.

"Every year we reset our focus and define the right objectives," he said at the launch of the W12 on Tuesday. "That may sound simple but it’s damn hard.

"It's probably why there are no sports teams out there with seven consecutive world titles," he added. "It’s very natural to get used to success and therefore not fight as hard for it.

"Every now and again, the seventh title double will come into our minds and bring a sense of satisfaction. But the minute you start to enjoy the moment, the scepticism for the next challenge begins to kick in.

"So many things can happen, teams can break apart, people leave, a sense of complacency appears, the pressure and constant stretch can burn people out," he explained. "But this team has not shown any of that. I see the same fire, hunger and passion now as I did the first time I walked through the doors in 2013."

While the team enjoyed a 254 point margin in the final standings last season, it also ended up the last race of the year in Abu Dhabi to Red Bull which Wolff accepted was a bit of a wake up call to all at Brackley and Brixworth.

"We can’t take any comfort from our good results in 2020. Every winter, there are always indications that someone else might have done a better job, so we must keep pushing.

"That scepticism and hunger drive us and get us fired up for every new season because the scoreboard goes to zero and there’s always more performance to be found.

"And that’s exciting. I enjoy this time of year as we drive into the unknown," Wolff proclaimed. "These challenges excite us, they are just what the doctor ordered!"

Wolff said that every season presented new challenges and goals. This season, as well as dealing with COVID and the introduction of a new cost cap expressly designed to create a more level playing field in F1, the team is also having to plan for big technical rule changes in 2022.

"We’ve had to adapt and have been continuously learning through the COVID-19 pandemic, how to operate in the best way we can while also keeping our team as safe as possible.


"The cost cap has changed the entire landscape of F1," he admitted. "We had to change the structure of our team, the way we work with each other, streamline our processes and become more efficient.

"It’s had a huge impact," he said. "But it has also provided us with the opportunity to re-evaluate our organisation.

"The changes for 2022 are so monumental that we must develop the entire car from scratch," he continued. "Every additional day of development time will add performance to the car.

"From a team’s perspective, that makes it very tricky to find the right point to transition team members from the 2021 project to the 2022 car," he said, noting that some teams might opt to sacrifice this season to get a head start on next year. "It’s an incredibly tough challenge.

"At the same time, we took some important steps to shape and improve our organisation and our sport. We have implemented robust steps to become more sustainable and both our factories now have a net-zero carbon footprint.

"We’ve set ourselves ambitious targets for greater diversity and inclusion in our team and the wider sport and have taken the first steps on that journey as well.

"That’s not been easy, but I’m pleased with everyone’s hard work and commitment. And now the entire team is focused on the season ahead," he concluded. "We are preparing for it the best we can and we’re excited to go back to what we love: racing!"

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