Wolf and Lauda to continue their management roles at Mercedes until the end of the 2020 season
Executive Director Toto Wolff and Non-Executive Director Niki Lauda have signed new contracts, keeping them in management roles at Mercedes until the end of the 2020 season. Lauda began working with the team in 2012 before taking his current role in 2013. Wolff joined Mercedes in the same year after leaving Williams.
Former McLaren and Ferrari driver, and three-time world champion Lauda commented, “Toto and I formed the perfect partnership at Mercedes…” This new contract will see him retain his 10% stake in the team.
“… we have a great team on every level that has delivered results,” Lauda said. This command over the field began in 2014 when new regulations saw the introduction of hybrid engines. Since then, they have won the last three constructors and drivers world championships with Lewis Hamilton taking the 2014 and 2015 titles, and Nice Rosberg most recently taking the 2016 title.
Wolff, who will retain his 30% stake in the team, was quick to praise his co-workers. “Winning is never down to single individuals – it is about the right group of people coming together, aligning themselves with a common objective and then combining their talents to achieve that target.”
Only last month, it was announced that technical director Paddy Lowe was leaving the team, to be replaced by Ferrari’s James Allison. “If there is such a thing as momentum, it can be disrupted by change,” said Wolff, who is still aware of the risks involved with the signing of such a long term contract, stating that “It provides opportunity, but it also provides risk.”
This new contract coincides with Mercedes’ own commitment to the sport, similar to the rest of the grid. Further negotiations with F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, will begin later in the year.
Lauda heartfeltly stated that “the last few years have been some of the most enjoyable I have had in Formula One”, which is a strong statement considering his previous success racing with both McLaren and Ferrari.
The announcement comes just days before the team released their 2017 title contender, the W08, at Silverstone circuit. The car will have its first race outing in Melbourne on March 26 with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the wheel.
When questions about his own future within the sport, three-time champion Hamilton simply said “I look at my team, the Silver Arrows, and think I’m a part of this history which I will be for way beyond my time and I want to continue being a part of it. When I stop racing, I still want to be a part of it.”
—Charlotte Andrews, Correspondent (Sports)