Wolff: Formula 1 teams need change in order to thrive

Mercedes has been through a lot of change in the last 12 months, but team boss Toto Wolff insists that this is a good thing and not something to be feared.

The team was rocked by Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire just five days after clinching the 2016 world champion. It left the Brackley-based squad searching for a late-notice replacement to take over the race seat.

Eventually they found their man in former Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. The Finn has already proved himself with two pole positions and two Grand prix victories in the first half of the 2017 season.

While Wolff wouldn’t go as far as to say that the change had been good for the team, he did suggest that it was inevitable and not to be feared.

“Change happens. It needs to happen. A racing team like Mercedes is not a static organisation. You cannot just freeze it,” he said.

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“There is very good young talent coming up that obviously want to progress in their career. You have new challenges, new regulations, the odd inefficiency you need to tackle.

“It is a constant process. Darwin said the species that is most adaptive is going to survive. The team is a species that is changing all the time.”

The team has also needed to get over the departure of Paddy Lowe as technical executive director. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, Mercedes suffered a dip in performance at the start to the 2017 season.

“We had a bit of a bumpy start,” Wolff admitted. “Testing didn’t go as expected and then the first couple of races were so-so. We didn’t quite find the setup window that functioned the right way on the car.

“But slowly we got there. We had a terrible weekend in Monaco but it gave us good direction. Sometimes these bad moments help you in the long run, and it did. Since then we’ve been doing okay.”

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While Wolff speaks warming of Bottas’ performance since joining the team, he’s also careful to praise his predecessor in the seat.

“I enjoyed working with Nico,” Wolff insisted. “He is a challenging personality who has made his way all the way to the top.

“Sometimes you say it was easier for him, but actually I think it was very difficult for him. If you are the son of a World Champion you need to find the energy and the motivation within yourself and I don’t think that is very easy.

“But he achieved his lifelong dream and then he decided to call it a day – which somehow is inspirational because we are all in that hamster wheel.

“He is one that actually decided to jump out of it.”

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