I know I frequently lament the puff-piece-like interviews that clutter up the official Formula 1 site. This week, though, the site has come through with a pretty solid Q&A with Williams executive director, Toto Wolff.
I give the interview a B+. It would have gotten an A or A- if they’d asked him about his name. Here are some highlights:
Q: Are you living proof that as petrol heads move on, entrepreneurs move in?
TW: We must never forget that Formula One teams are tiny little enterprises. How much revenue do we do? One or two hundred million in turnover? This is ridiculously small compared to a global company. There are many people out there running multi-billion dollar corporations, but who are not in the media spotlight so are able to run their companies in a totally different way to us. What we do here is sport. This is why we are in the media. But on the other hand it is also a little company that needs to be run. So yes, it is true that more people from the business community get involved, but you should at least have an interest in motorsport to fully understand what you are doing. Otherwise it can get very tricky, because it is still the sport that is making the money – the success on the track – and if you have no understanding of that and no respect for what the engineers and drivers are doing, then failure might just lurk around the corner.
Q: Was change at Williams overdue? Are the new brooms – you for Adam Parr, Mike Coughlan for Sam Michael – sweeping clean?
TW: I think what happened with us happens to many companies with two iconic founders who have run the business for many decades. In our case it was Frank’s decision almost 10 year ago to step aside and let a new generation take over. This has not worked out on the first attempt. I am the second try, so I hope that the saying ‘third time lucky’ is not ultimately true… (laughs) I honestly hope that the second time works out. Yes, there is a wind of change in here. We must never forget that the performance is what we get judged by. I am not really involved in the performance of the car, although I try to also be there and understand. I am involved a lot on the recruitment side. What is clear is that we are only at the beginning of the journey.
Q: What about Bruno? Will he stay with the team? Some might get the impression that the name paved his way into F1 racing but that now it is more of a burden…
TW: Bruno is very intelligent and very sensitive and that means he is putting a lot of pressure on himself. Whether it is the name or not, I don’t know. Every racing driver in F1 is very competitive and Bruno is trying to fight the fact that he hasn’t had a huge racing education, as the family didn’t want him to go racing. But he has made his way into F1, which means that he is good. He has an extremely fast team mate and he needs to follow his path. He is pushing very hard and we are trying to support him as best we can.
Q: Are Williams thinking of sticking with the same driver line-up for 2013 then?
TW: It’s too early to say. Sure, we are taking different looks at the issue, but the minute we discuss it we are going to mess-up Pastor and Bruno – and maybe others that we try talking to – so I would give it another month before we are going to have the first idea of what we want.
I’ve cut out Wolff’s response to a question about Pastor Maldonado, but I will say this: He sounds way more enthusiastic about Pastor than Bruno. And that leads us to perhaps a Silly Season storyline that can replace the Lewis Hamilton one, if need be:
Who should Williams put in place of Senna next year?