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Wolff clarifies his and Mercedes' position

NEWS STORY
06/06/2020

In a clear bid to head off continued speculation over the team, its drivers, its relationship with Daimler and even the Aston Martin/Lawrence Stroll conspiracy theories, the German team, in a masterstroke of PR, allowed "selected media" to question Toto Wolff this week.

The Austrian, unsurprisingly, was quite forthcoming, especially when it came to his own future with the Brackley-based outfit.

Asked about relationship with new Daimler boss, Ola Kallenius and how it differs to the relationship with, former boss Dieter Zetsche, he admitted that they are "two very different personalities, but with both of whom, I have an excellent working relationship and friendship.

"Ola and I had quite a laugh together when these rumours came up that there was some dysfunctionality in our relationship," he continued. "We speak on the phone many times every week and he's very involved, a very good sparring partner for myself that I wouldn't miss in the same way that Dieter was.

"On my future, I have bought a few shares in Aston Martin as a financial investment," he confirmed (again). "I believe in the brand, I think the strategy that is being deployed makes sense, Tobias Moers the new MD is a guy that I have known for a long time and I believe that he can turn around this business.

"There is a very strong group of shareholders that are backing Aston Martin today that will not let it down and therefore I have decided to be part of that group.

"My executive functions are unchanged, I am at Mercedes," he continued. "I am the team principal and I am a shareholder.

"It's clear that when there are no other headlines out there, that the Aston Martin thing caused some waves," he added. "But I am planning with Mercedes. I have the best intention to stay here and that is unchanged."

Asked if there is any intention of stepping back from the coal-face, and allowing someone else to take over as team principal, he said: "Something I am really proud of in our team is that we have always transitioned senior members of the team into different roles. We have brought up talent and the same applies to me.

"I have been lucky enough to be at the helm of Mercedes since early 2014, with years that I wouldn't want to miss. I really enjoy the interaction and working with all of my friends at the F1 team and Daimler. This is something I wouldn't want to miss.

"Nevertheless, I need to question myself. I don't want to become a team principal that goes from great to good without realising that he is maybe not adding as much anymore to the team as you did in the beginning.

"I still feel that I can add a lot, but of course I am contemplating about my future, I am in discussions with Ola about how that goes.

"It is not a simple employment contract, but it involves a shareholding and we are in the midst of the process in carving out our joint future.

"Therefore, I don't want to stick to some form of a particular wording, whether it is team principal or managing director. To be honest, I haven't taken any decision yet because we haven't even started racing. All these agreements and discussions are happening as we speak."

Asked about the various rumours that have been doing the rounds in recent months, he said: "There is always some kind of campaign and agenda going on.

"I think it's clear that every automotive company faces difficult and insecure times," he continued. "Every single day, you open up a magazine or a newspaper and it's about Volkswagen or Renault or Fiat or Daimler.

"In that respect I completely understand that a sporting platform is being questioned. The top management at Mercedes very much sees F1 as a co-activity. We build road cars and we build race cars. And actually, the first ever car was a race car. In that respect we don't simply see it as a marketing platform that generates valuable marketing dollars. But we see it as a core exercise. There is technology transfer between the road and F1 and it's not being criticised within Daimler. Nevertheless, we discuss all our activities and all our investments every single year and I think we are just a target of somebody that wants to create some headlines and maybe have more clicks."

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