Wolff misses a Lauda-type personality next to him at Mercedes

19-12-2021 13:20
by GPblog.com
Wolff misses a Lauda-type personality next to him at Mercedes

Toto Wolff has had a tough season. The Mercedes team boss was up against Red Bull Racing this season, putting him under more pressure than ever. The Austrian could do with a right-hand man, but who has helped him this season?

Wolff had a lot of support from Niki Lauda over the years. The former Formula 1 driver, with all his experience and courage, was of great value for the entire Mercedes team and was able to guide Wolff on certain parts. Where the team boss sometimes thought it was wise to go to one side, Lauda managed to convince Wolff to go another way. As non-executive chairman of the team, Lauda was closely involved in the decisions of the German racing team. Moreover, he reported directly to the board of Daimler, so he contributed in several areas.

His past at various teams, including Ferrari, Jaguar Racing and Mercedes, was also a positive factor within the whole. Lauda was more than welcome at each team and could therefore easily solve problems that arose. Thus, for years Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko and Lauda ensured that things remained calm behind the scenes. After his death in May 2019, Lauda therefore left a large void in the Mercedes team.

Schäfer succeeded Lauda

The German formation may have remained the best team in Formula 1, but beyond that, the loss of Lauda caused a substantial blow. Markus Schäfer was given the difficult task to take over the role next to Wolff, but of course he could never follow in Lauda's footsteps. Even better: Mercedes decided to change a detail within the successful team.

Where Lauda always stood next to Wolff to calm him down or to urge him to action, Mercedes decided to let Schäfer work even more behind the scenes. This resulted in the fact that Schäfer wasn't present during the GP's and Wolff was more on his own. It has had a clear effect on Wolff's behaviour.

Emotions of Wolff come to the surface

In the past, the team boss was always a man who could get emotional. The difference with those days however is that Lauda made up for a lot behind the scenes. The successful racing driver had an infallible feeling and, often together with Marko, did the right things at the right time. This season is different, because Wolff and Horner could drink each other's blood because of high-flown irritations.

Lauda knew better than anyone how important it was to show sporting behaviour, if only for the prestige of the team. Although Wolff was free to appeal, the team boss would have cleared the air if he had congratulated Verstappen immediately after the race. Schäfer seems to be too far removed from the team boss to be able to correct him. If Mercedes wants to make progress it would be wise to put an experienced man next to Wolff next season.

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