This year’s Formula 1 season has some strange things going on. This month it was announced that Toto Wolff will take over as the head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports. Wolff is an experienced racer and businessman. He also has served on the board of directors of the Williams Formula 1 team. He seems like a reasonable choice to head up the Mercedes-Benz racing group. Then things started to go strange.
Robert Kubica and Toto Wolff At Kubica’s Recent Mercedes-Benz DTM Test
Despite working for Mercedes-Benz, Wolff will continue to own 15.4% of the Williams Formula 1 team! This seems strange to have the person in charge of one Formula 1 team have an ownership position of a rival team. But wait – it gets worse. Not only will Toto Wolff be working for Mercedes-Benz, he will own 30% of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix operation. So he will own significant pieces of two Formula 1 teams.
You would think that this is bad enough as far as an apparent conflict of interest, but it even gets worse. In the last few days the Williams Formula 1 team has announced that its development driver for 2013 will be Susie Wolff. Yes indeed, that is the same Susie Wolff who is married to Toto Wolff!
Williams Formula 1 Development Driver Susie Wolff
Susie Wolff is a racer and had been active in the DTM series for a number of years. She would be a reasonable choice as a development driver doing testing for the Williams Formula 1 team, but when her husband is in charge of and an owner of a rival team, then this seems like a poor choice.
Maybe this will all work out, but in my opinion, all of this does not pass the smell test. Is Toto Wolff so good that both Mercedes-Benz and Williams will tolerate this ownership conflict? And is Susie Wolff such a good development driver that nobody else could fill that position equally as well?