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Wolff critical of F1's critics


Speaking to the Institute of Directors in April 1991, Gerald Ratner, head of the British jewellery company the Ratners Group, which included many well-known High Street names such H. Samuel, Ernest Jones, Leslie Davis, Watches of Switzerland and over a thousand shops in the US including Kays, light-heartedly referred to a number of items on sale in his shops, which were widely seen as being at the lower end of the market.

"We do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for 4.95," he told his audience. "People say, "How can you sell this for such a low price?" I say, "because it's total crap."

He compounded this by adding that one set of earrings on sale in his shops was "cheaper than a Marks & Spencers prawn sandwich but probably wouldn't last as long".

Within days the value of the company had dropped by around 500 million, almost causing its collapse and subsequently changed its name to the Signet Group, its newly appointed chairman having fired Ratner in the process.

Speaking in the wake of the reaction to the French Grand Prix, which Christian Horner described as "one of the most boring I can remember being involved in" and even race winner Lewis Hamilton said "if you say it's boring, I totally understand it", Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has accused the critics of damaging the sport, of 'doing a Ratner', especially in light of the fact that the subsequent race, the Austrian Grand Prix, was widely seen as a thriller.

"I think all the ones that used the polemic and the hardest words in their rhetoric should remember (this race) the next time they start to complain," said Wolff, according to

"We shouldn't be doing a Ratner," he continued, "and talking our sport down when we have a next race where the sport is more than alive, but is spectacular, with a full crowd, with controversy on track, and some fantastic racing."

Of course, the criticism followed what was by any stretch of the imagination a boring event at Le Castellet, a track that most drivers feel is better suited to testing than racing. Furthermore, it marked Mercedes sixth 1-2 of the season.

Though his team had a relatively disappointing weekend in Austria, Wolff points to the race as being positive for the whole sport.

"I feel it's a very good day for F1. Some fantastic racing, and I want to really say bravo to Pirelli, that have stood strong to the opinion that withstands manipulation and delivered us a product that we were able to push until the very end.

"Last year we had some blistering issues, this year the tyre was great, and it is a little bit humorous that the ones that complained the most are the ones that pushed the tyre all the way to the end.

"I really much enjoyed the hard racing and I think people have criticised that there's not enough hard racing, and that Mercedes were too far ahead. We've seen a different scenario, and whether they've closed the gap, let's look at the next three races, totally different circuit layouts, totally different weather, and I hope we can come back to our strengths.

"I think that the power deployment isn't as much of a differentiator through the fast corners. So I think Silverstone should be much more to our liking, maybe not as good as Paul Ricard, but much better than Austria."

Interestingly, Wolff's robust defence of the sport comes at a time he is being linked with Chase Carey's role as F1 boss, the Austrian claiming that talk of such a move is part of an agenda.

"I wonder who put my name out there?" he told "Maybe there is an agenda about putting my name out to actually trigger scepticism. But interestingly, none of that is happening and I haven't applied for a job."

As ever, a clever choice of words, for Wolff will not have applied for the job, on the other hand that doesn't mean that the sport's powers that be are not lining him up for the role.

Indeed, that is exactly what we hear, though, if all comes true it won't merely be a change of boss (and assistant) for F1.

As if to compound his already impressive credentials, Wolff adds: "The sport is a super exciting property. It is one of the big global sports properties and I think we have a real chance to make it the biggest spectacle in the world if we continue to develop what F1 stands for.

"We need to embrace our current audiences and fans, and potential audiences that we haven't tapped yet, plus embrace new technology," he thoughtfully adds.


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1. Posted by VC10-1103, 08/07/2019 15:51

"to finish my previous post - 'springs to mind'"

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2. Posted by VC10-1103, 08/07/2019 15:50

"The phrase 'One swallow does not a summer make'"

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3. Posted by FQITW, 08/07/2019 12:44

"Well that's OK then if Toto says so.
A fairly dull season so far culminating in the French farce is completely
exonerated due to one good race.
Yes Austria was brill and everyone who saw it will agree but it's one race.
Toto says we (the fans) should not keep moaning about F1 after multiple boring races due to whatever reason.
I would suggest that Toto does not tell us how good the world of F1 is due to a single isolated performance."

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4. Posted by Pete, 07/07/2019 20:48

"Why keep going back to tracks where the drivers are not allowed to race??? Have the owners either fix these tracks or dump them off the schedule. For the worst case, Monaco, put all 20 drivers in identical cars and let them have some fun while everyone drinks champagne and argues about who has the biggest yacht."

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