In a shocker of a news (though in all honesty, there were several rumours to the effect even before it became official), Williams Grand Prix Holdings announced today that Toto Wolff, one of its executive directors will be leaving the company to take on a new role with Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
In a press release, the company announced, “Toto will be relinquishing his seat on the Company’s Board of Directors but will retain his shareholding. Team principal and majority shareholder Sir Frank Williams will continue to oversee the running of the Company with Toto’s responsibilities being shared between members of the Board’s Executive Committee.”
Speaking about Toto Wolff’s departure Sir Frank Williams commented: ‘’I would like to thank Toto for his hard work, dedication and commitment to the team during his time as a Director of the Company. He was a key support to me as Executive Director last season, deputising at a number of races when I was unable to attend. However, positions such as the one offered to him by Mercedes do not come around often. Toto has a long history with them and I certainly was not going to stand in the way of him accepting this once in a lifetime opportunity. Toto will retain his shareholding in Williams and will always have a place at Grove but make no mistake; we will fight him hard on the racetrack! I am sure he will be a strong asset for Mercedes and on behalf of the whole team I would like to wish him the best of luck in his new role. I’m lucky to have a very professional group of people around me and the Company’s Executive Committee will continue the work they have been doing to ensure a successful future for the business.”
Toto was an important part of Williams’ future in F1. The team signed on his wife Susie as a development driver in April last year. It seems that Toto will now join Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd as a shareholder and executive director. However, the Williams press release clearly states that Toto will retain his shareholding in the team.
Now, that definitely sounds awkward.
Today, Mercedes issued a press release formalizing the news. The release stated: “Daimler AG plans to reorganize its Formula 1 activities. In this context, Daimler has signed a letter of intent with Austrian investor and motorsport manager Toto Wolff, according to which Wolff will acquire a significant minority interest in the Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd. (MGP) and will also head that company as its executive director. Furthermore, Niki Lauda, currently non-executive chairman of MGP, will also acquire a stake in the company. Together with Ross Brawn, Lauda and Wolff will complete the management of the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 racing team.
“As an entrepreneur, investor and motorsport manager, Toto Wolff has proven that this sport runs in his blood; at the same time, he is also well aware of the economic necessities of the business. With Toto Wolff, we have gained for our Formula 1 team not only an experienced motorsport specialist, but also a longstanding enthusiast of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Together with him and Niki Lauda, we will further develop our motorsport activities and guide our Silver Arrows into the next era,” stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars and Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG. Toto Wolff is to become both a shareholder and executive director of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd., and will take over the complete coordination of all Mercedes-Benz motorsport activities.
Wolff sees his new task as one of the most exciting challenges in motorsport: “Mercedes is one of the most important participants in motorsport worldwide. I am not only a big fan, but also a longstanding friend and enthusiast of the brand. I am looking forward to the challenge and, along with preparing for a successful racing season, also want to focus on the targeted promotion of new talent.”
“I am leaving Williams on good terms and I will miss the team and friends I have made there. I´d also like to wish Frank and the whole of Williams the best of luck for the future”, Wolff added.
Toto Wolff started his motorsport career in Formula Sport in 1992. Since 1998, Wolff has founded several venture capital companies. His current investments include an interest in HWA AG, the partner of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport in DTM racing. In November 2009, he acquired a stake in British racing team Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC and joined its board of directors. Since July 2012, Toto Wolff has been a member of that team´s management. Toto Wolff will resign from that position when he joins Mercedes-Benz, but will remain a Williams shareholder.