2013 Formula 1 Season Has Some Strange News

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.

Kubica and Toto Wolff

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!

Susie 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?

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