Wolff admits ’human factor’ hurting Mercedes

"A critical mass of experienced and good people"


20 May 2024 - 09:43
Wolff admits 'human factor'

Toto Wolff is not worried that Mercedes’ formerly dominant team structure appears to be in a state of collapse.

Just before Imola, it emerged that leading team personnel Jerome d’Ambrosio - team boss Wolff’s deputy - and head of chassis performance Loic Serra were defecting to Ferrari.

And then at Imola, news flowed in that Mercedes’ chief aerodynamicist Gioacchino Vino is also departing - although Ferrari’s Simone Resta and Enrico Sampo are on the way to Mercedes at the same time.

Mercedes’ technical director James Allison was asked if he’s concerned about why the team is losing so many top people.

"I don’t think there’s any point in me offering a commentary on motivation," he said.

"Clearly, a team needs to have a critical mass of experienced and good people. And we would not wish to see experienced good people leave us. But we also are gathering experienced and good people at a similar rate," Allison insisted.

"So I guess it’s our job to try and make sure we act in such a way as everybody would rather be with us than anywhere else."

The problem for the Brackley based team is that, despite utterly dominating in the previous ’hybrid’ regulations era, Mercedes has seemed at a frustrating stand-still under the new Red Bull-dominated ’ground effect’ rules.

"That’s where we are and it’s extremely disappointing," team boss Wolff told Sky Deutschland on Sunday, after the silver cars finished sixth and seventh despite having been fitted with a car upgrade for Imola.

"If you’re 30 seconds plus from the top, that’s not what we want and we can’t be proud of that," he added. "The results do not show that we are making progress with the car.

"There is frustration in my voice," Wolff added, "but there is progress and more to come. It’s just how this sport works."

Wolff admitted that part of the reason for Mercedes’ post-2021 slump is "the human factor". "As far as I see the situation, someone wanted to leave, someone was forced to leave due to certain circumstances, but we are not only losing personnel, we are also gaining them.

"All this is happening under the leadership of James Allison, who is doing a good job," added the Austrian.

Mathias Lauda thinks Mercedes is also feeling the absence of his late father Niki, who died in 2019. "I don’t want to offend Toto Wolff, because Toto does a very good job," he told Servus TV.

"But of course my father had a lot more Formula 1 experience. He came from a completely different generation and had a completely different way of thinking. They took the best of both sides and were able to grow together."

Mathias also thinks his legendary father may have stopped Lewis Hamilton from defecting to Ferrari.

"Lewis needed my father there in the team as an anchor," he said. "Not just when it comes to Formula 1, but also for life.

"Lewis, like everyone, has his concerns and his insecurities, even if we don’t notice much of it."

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