F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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They’re the most decorated team on the Formula One Grid, but no-one is ‘immune’ from defeat and cannot risk becoming complacent. That’s according to the boss of Mercedes Toto Wolff.
Wolff was appointed Mercedes’ motorsport boss and executive director of its Formula One team back in 2013 replacing Norbert Haug, and since then has guided them to huge success.
Now with seven straight Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles under their belt, six alone came with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel, the threat of Red Bull this season has given the team boss much to think about.
Despite coming into the opening weekend of the year on the backfoot, Hamilton and Mercedes still managed to pull out a spectacular win against Max Verstappen.
But when asked by Jake Humphrey on the High Performance Podcast if he was as passionate about the job, and as relentless, as he was the day he started, the Austrian was philosophical in his response.
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“There is a reason why not many teams win world championships, there’s less that can do more than one, and I don’t believe there is any that have won seven in a row on a world championship level,” explained Wolff.
“The reason is great people meet on this journey, but great people leave, lose motivation or energy – get complacent, and if winning becomes a habit, and is not something special anymore, this may create a negative spiral that eventually is going to make you lose.
“But we are not immune to that, and we know that the risk is there. So we need to actively tackle that.
“We are bringing talent up, we are making people responsible in their departments and areas that have been more junior in the past, so it becomes their own success.
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“We are trying to define objectives that excite, that people buy in to and we accept that nobody is able to perform 24/7 all the time, but we have such a strong group of people, that we carry the ones who need time on the sidelines.
“It happened to me. Last year I had a period that I really had to find for myself what the future would hold.
“I was being carried, and when I came back to full power, and I needed that, I’m carrying others now.”
Wolff also spoke about his first day at Mercedes, and the clear direction he knew he wanted from the team.
“I always had a clear vision of what I wanted Williams to be, but when I walked into Mercedes, it wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” he said.
“The first day i walked in I arrived at reception and I sat down, and it didn’t look like a Formula One team. There was an old Daily Mail on the table from the previous week, and coffee cups still had the dry coffee.
“I couldn’t believe this was the Mercedes Formula One team. And now you may say how does dry coffee cups or an old Daily Mail impact on the performance of a Formula One team – but it shows an attitude. It shows attention to detail.
“And I think this is most important for a high tech team. All these soft factors that many will ignore, because it’s not data, it’s not aerodynamics that make a car faster – but all that is part of the values of a team.
“And everybody runs in the same direction, everyone acknowledges the attention to detail is important, then eventually the wheel is going to gain some momentum.
“We are on this joint mission, this journey together, and part of my role is to have big enough shoulders to take some of the adversity that is hitting us.
“I will try to do my best and never let anyone down in the team, but it’s not something that I actively do, it’s just something which is inherent, it’s part of who I am, and I don’t feel any pressure with it.”
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