Key personnel changes an ‘opportunity’ for Mercedes, says Wolff

(From left) Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff and Valtteri Bottas seen at the launch of the Mercedes F1 W08 at Silverstone Thursday morning. (Photo: LAT Photographic)
Mike Hoyer/Ebrey/LAT Images

Toto Wolff sees the major changes at Mercedes as a positive opportunity for the team, rather than a handicap.

The Austrian believes that the departures of Nico Rosberg and Paddy Lowe and arrivals of Valtteri Bottas and new tech boss James Allison will ultimately give the team a boost as in effect it reinvents itself.

“First of all, performance of an F1 car is down to a large group of individuals that get together and that share the same objectives,” said Wolff. “And each of them fulfils his objectives in his respective ‘garden of competence.’ So when I think about this year’s car it is the product of very many people that have had a big influence. So we have two new individuals that will become part of the group, obviously Valtteri a very prominent part of the group, as being the driver.

“Disruption can be a very positive factor, in a company’s development. So when Nico decided to call it a day of course the initial information came as a surprise, but we quickly realized that it provided opportunity, and I think by having Valtteri in the car it is an opportunity, an exciting opportunity for us.

“In terms of Paddy, it is a little bit the same. You can either follow the concept of having the philosophy of never change a winning team, or try to emphasize what’s important for the future. I don’t want to go into too much detail as Paddy is not here. He is a great guy, and he was an important part of Mercedes. And we have just decided all together, including Paddy, that for him maybe there is another opportunity that is exciting for him, and at the same time for us it provides opportunity.”

Regarding Lewis Hamilton’s mindset, he said: “Lewis has been with the team now four years and the longer you work with each other the better you get to know each other, and the way I have seen him in the last weeks is really in a great mood and great spirits, he has closed the chapter of last year – that is how it seems to be and to work with the team has been exceptional. So we seem to be in a very good place there.”

Wolff says that the new rules have created a reset for everybody.

“We were lucky enough to be the benchmark in the last couple of years. But because the rules have changed, not only like in any other season the points go back to zero, but also it is a new era in terms of technical innovation. Maybe somebody has found a silver bullet that proves to be the factor that changes everything, like 2009 with Ross Brawn. So we’ll see. Hopefully we have found the silver bullet.”