You have to work at the craft a little in order to be the master of the back-handed compliment and it clearly seems to me that Toto Wolff has spent much of his life honing his ability to tell people to “go to hell” and have them actually thank him for it. It’s an art.
It’s even more important when you’re a man who has an opinion on every aspect of F1 including your team, other teams, other drivers, other sports and the most finite detail of the series. You have to be able to tack and pivot. Take the ban on certain radio communications for instance.
If you are one of those Formula 1 fans who feel the radio messages have gotten out of control and the sport should ban the radio, then, you may feel like the sport is seeking a compromise with you or you may feel patronized because clearly the elephant in the room is the radio and banning certain types of messages simply means teams will use coded messages.
Regardless, here is a case of Toto Wolff complimenting the concept and then in the same breath, tipping his hat to the point that he doesn’t like the idea of any radio band:
“It’s an absolutely positive step,” said Wolff.
“The target was to make things less predictable, more variable, and this is what’s going to happen.
“There is the potential now for races between them to unfold in a different way.
“Take the so-called ‘strat’ modes on an engine that make quite a substantial difference in terms of efficiency in making it through a race.
“Obviously you only have certain allowances in various power modes, but the more powerful you run, then the better you defend, the better you attack.
“We like radio transmission and the emotion around it, and this is why it happened 15 years ago, that we wanted to be part of the emotions in the car,” said Wolff.
“Now maybe we’ve gone too far in cutting it back a bit, and whether it’s better for the fans, I’m not sure.
“They will have less understanding of what’s going on in the car because the driver will be on the radio less.
“But it will create more error, therefore more variability in the result which is important for the sport.
“This is how it goes because people want to see the underdog win. They get bored with a dominant car winning.”
So it’s “people” who don’t like domination that are creating the issues, fair enough. I will say that having watched F1 for many years now, I felt like Mercedes really ramped up the radio chatter and car management when they got back into the sport. I don’t remember another team telling their drivers what to do and when to do it as much as Mercedes and there were times you’d think Nico Rosberg may not be able to actually drive a car given the types of conversations and questions he was asking the team.
I’m divided on the radio ban to be honest, I’ve written about it before in that the amount of data that is harvested from a car during a race is astronomical and perhaps you could cut some of that down. If you have the data, you’ll use it so reduce the amount of data and the teams have less to discuss. What!!?? Are you against safety??!!
There are many of you out there who say, “just ban the radio period and use a pit board like MotoGP” and I see that point too but that might be a little draconian even for me. I’ll have to work on my Toto position on this and figure out a way to say “I love it, I hate it”.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT