Wolff denies conflicts of interest in business/driver deals despite scrutiny

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has denied any conflicts of interest between his current position and activities outside the German manufacturer.

The Austrian first entered Formula 1 as a shareholder in Williams back in 2009, rising to the role of executive director in 2012, before buying a 30% in Mercedes' F1 team in 2013 and joining in the same role as well as taking control of all motorsport activities.

Having later sold the shares he held in Williams, however, Wolff reclaimed them earlier this year and also purchased a small stake in Aston Martin after the significant investment by good friend and Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll.

Given these fingers in other F1-related pies then, it has led to strong speculation over his future at Mercedes, with his contract expiring after 2020, and also leads to questions from other figures within the paddock.

"I completely understand that if you have been successful over a few years - and me as an entrepreneur, which I have always been - having interests in certain indirect relationships with players in the sport – this is annoying," Wolff said about the attention on his portfolio last month.

"If I were on the other side I would also pick on these things.

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"There is one essential point with me: when I joined Mercedes, I decided, and this was an intense discussion with Mercedes, to do everything in the interest of the sport.

"So, to clarify: I sold the Williams shares but I got them back because they were held in escrow and the last payment defaulted. It’s not something that I wanted and I made it clear with Mercedes that my main priority with those shares is to sell them," Toto explained.

"So the process that has been started by Claire and the team (and recently ended in the sale to Dorilton Capital) is something that I really appreciate because it allows me to sell those shares. That’s number one.

"Number two: The Aston Martin investment is tiny. I’ve bought a few shares in a car company that has no direct shareholding with an F1 team but is simply doing the branding on the Red Bull car this year and on the Racing Point next year.

"I see it as a good investment – I like the products, the new management team is fantastic. And I have no board seat, which was agreed with Daimler, and no other involvement.

"I’m not a consultant, I’m not an executive and I’m just watching from the sideline what happens."

Another area where Wolff is involved in driver management, as a co-owner of a company with double F1 champion Mika Hakkinen.


One of the clients in the management company is Valtteri Bottas, who of course joined Mercedes in 2017 and will take part in his fifth season at the team in 2021 despite arguably some better options on the table such as George Russell.

"It’s all under the roof of MGP, of the Mercedes Formula 1 team," Wolff said.

"We have tried, like any other big team, to really look at the talent that is coming up from karting onwards, and like Ferrari, that has expanded its activities in the junior programme and has some very promising young drivers coming up, we have done that a few years ago.

"Red Bull has done it. There is no conflict of interest. But I understand that it pisses some people off and sometimes the perception is something that is important to recognise and I do that."