Wolff Rejects Idea Marchionne Management Style Cost Ferrari Title Shot in 2017

Kimi Raikkonen was criticised by Sergio Marchionne in 2017
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Toto Wolff believes it would be ‘oversimplification’ to believe that Sergio Marchionne’s approach to running the Scuderia Ferrari team was a factor in the Italian teams defeat to Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport during the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Marchionne was often outspoken during the campaign, criticising Kimi Raikkonen for being unable to match the pace of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and the team as a whole for reliability issues that cost them valuable points, but Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport rejects the idea that the boss of his rivals had a negative impact on their season.

“Pressure can make a diamond, but pressure can also make a pipe burst,” said Wolff to Motorsport.com. “Sergio Marchionne is one of the most successful businessmen that I have ever met, and somebody that has one of the sharpest minds I have ever seen operating.

“So far it [Ferrari’s style] works for him and I don’t think you can reduce Ferrari’s 2017 season, or the end of the 2017 season campaign, to pressure that was applied. I think this is oversimplification.”

Wolff feels Mercedes’ own set-up has made it possible for everyone within the organisation to have a voice, and he feels it is essential for this to happen in order to improve as a team.

“We encourage everybody in the organisation to speak up,” said Wolff. “We have a motto that is ‘see it, say it, fix it’ which means that you have to create a safe environment for everybody to speak up. You need to be able to improve as a part of the team.

“What we try to do from the very senior leadership is to blame the problem and not the individual. It is easy to say ‘well, that is what we do’. As a matter of fact, it is in human nature to try to identify a guilty person, it is easy because it is a pressure release – his fault.

“We’re working really hard on not doing that because the moment you do that people close up like a shell and you won’t see any innovation, you won’t see any risk-taking. This is what we want – we are in a risk-taking business, an innovation business.”