Wolff: F1’s popularity unaffected by Verstappen dominance


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff maintains that Formula 1’s appeal and popularity remains unaffected by Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s unprecedented supremacy in the sport.

This season, Verstappen stepped up to the top step of the podium a record 19 times, while as a team, Red Bull was one victory short from achieving an extraordinary clean sweep in the championship, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz denying the Milton Keynes-based outfit that privilege in Singapore.

In stark contrast, Mercedes, the sport's dominant force for a decade, endured a season of struggles, failing to secure a single race win and finishing a distant second in the constructors' championship.

But despite Verstappen’s crushing forward march, Wolff maintains that Formula 1's popularity remains strong.

However, the Mercedes chief asserts that Red Bull's success should serve as a challenge to its rivals to raise their game.

“The numbers that we're seeing, they are strong,” said Wolff, quoted by Motorsport.com. “We are growing on social [media], we see races that are packed and sold out.

“As a matter of fact, it is all around the spectacle. If the spectacle is not good our fans are going to follow us less.

"But I think what I always say in the sport, I like the honesty. The spectacle follows the sport. And the sport, this is a meritocracy. Whoever is doing the best job wins.

“And if somebody is doing a much better job than everybody else, then they are winning 19 races. And you can't stop that as a matter of fact.

“So it is us and Ferrari and all the other teams that have to do a better job in order to compete with Red Bull Racing, and we can't change anything.

“Of course there is the risk that with a certain lag, people are going to say, ‘Well, I know the result anyway,’ like it happened to us with Lewis [Hamilton] for many years.

"But we have just got to do a better job. And I don't want to wait until 2026.”

Despite Mercedes’ struggles in 2023, Wolff remains confident in his outfit’s ability to reclaim its dominance in the future, pointing to the team's outstanding record in the constructors' championship since 2013."

“I have a long-term perspective,” he said. “I have a board in our factory, which shows all the constructor world championship titles since 1958. And the table goes on until 2050.

“You have the logos, the badges for each of the years. And there are 27 open, empty badges. And I would like to look back in 20 years and say there's many more Mercedes stars.
“I hate retrospective views, but when we look back in 10 or 20 years, and we consider the decade, it was second, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, third, second.

“And when we look at it from that perspective, you kind of say that was okay. Now, from a micro view, there is one guy that won 19 races. So that is of course not good enough.”

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