Wolff Hits Back at Abiteboul over Mercedes contract criticism


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Toto Wolff has responded to the criticisms made by Renault Sport Formula 1 Team Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul regarding Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s approach to contracts.

In October last year, Abiteboul said that Mercedes integrating lengthy gardening leave spells in its contracts in order to prevent team personnel from quickly changing teams and passing on valuable insider information was ‘unfair’ and ‘aggressive’ – and detrimental to the competitiveness of the Formula 1 field.

However, Wolff retorted by defending the approach and insinuating that Abiteboul’s comments came about due to missing out on a member of Mercedes staff.

“It is simply a matter of keeping the important parts of the organisation together to ensure stability,” Wolff said, speaking to Motorsport.com.

“In this case, it was an employee who has just signed a new contract and whom Renault would have liked to see.  That wasn’t possible in that case because a replacement was missing.”

Mercedes have lost key personnel in the last few years, with Paddy Lowe migrating his position as executive director in favour of a return to Williams Martini Racing for 2017; after winning his third successive championship double with the German marque. Scuderia Ferrari‘s James Allison was drafted in as his replacement on his return from personal leave.

Wolff praised the strength in depth shown by Mercedes after the move, as they claimed a fourth title in as many years, showing that the Mercedes operation is no one-man feat.

“It is the breadth of the team that is responsible for success,” the Austrian noted.  “Durability had a great influence on success. The team we’ve put on has done a good job.

“Paddy has great qualities, but getting James Allison was the best decision we could have made.  The success of a Formula 1 team is not the success of a single one – but rather the sum of the people who work together.”