Toto Wolff’s Mercedes position questioned after Lewis Hamilton title defeat

Susie Wolff is thrown a surprised birthday party

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Toto Wolff’s role with the Mercedes F1 Team has been questioned after the Silver Arrows failed to win the drivers’ championship for the first time since 2013. The team still retained the constructors’ title, but final-day defeat in the higher profile table has caused one major influence in F1 to ask whether the Austrian’s position is still as strong as it once was.

After his own motorsport career which involved endurance racing, rallying and GT competitions, Wolff got involved in the management side of the sport.

It began in 2009 when he bought shares in Williams, and he became executive director of the historic team three years later.

In 2013 he left the team to join Mercedes, where he was initially an executive director and bought a 30% stake in the team.

Wolff has since become team principal and chief executive, and has an enormous amount of power when it comes to Mercedes’ entire racing operation.

But former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone wonders if that might change as a result of the team’s failure to win the drivers’ title.

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“I don’t know whether Toto Wolff, with a third of the team shares, is still in the same strong position as before,” the 91-year-old told Swiss outlet Blick.

“But we will find out at some point.”

The retired motorsport supremo also questioned whether star driver Lewis Hamilton would be back for more after the agony of losing out on his eighth world title in controversial circumstances.

Ecclestone said he had spoken to the Briton’s father in recent days, but stayed away from the topic of his F1 career.

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“I immediately felt that he wouldn’t answer a question about his son’s future. So we only talked about business!” he said.

“I don’t think he’s coming back. His disappointment is too big. And you can somehow understand it.

“Now it would be time to tackle his dream of becoming a fashion entrepreneur with seven world titles like Michael Schumacher.”

Even if Hamilton does decide to continue, Ecclestone is not convinced the Brit is guaranteed to be pushing for the title again in 2022.

Increased competition and the new rules potentially shaking up the grid could work against Hamilton, Ecclestone said.

“Lewis could only lose in 2022,” he added. “Who knows how the new cars will reposition the field?

“With George Russell he would have an ambitious team-mate, of whom I am not as convinced as many experts, by the way.

“And then we don’t forget about [Max] Verstappen. With him, Hamilton has finally found an equal opponent after many years.

“In Hamilton, Max had a rival that everyone valued highly. Success counts twice. And I claim – Max is currently the best racing driver in the world.”

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