Williams Formula One team have announced that shareholder and executive director Toto Wolff is joining Mercedes as their head of motorsport, as a replacement for Norbert Haug, with immediate effect. He will remain a shareholder in the British team named for Sir Frank Williams.
The Grove based team released a statement saying, “Toto Wolff, one of the Executive Directors, will be leaving the Company with immediate effect to take up a new role with Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.”
“Toto will be relinquishing his seat on the Company’s Board of Directors but will retain his shareholding. Team Principal and majority shareholder Sir Frank Williams will continue to oversee the running of the Company with Toto’s responsibilities being shared between members of the Board’s Executive Committee.”
Speaking about Toto Wolff’s departure Sir Frank Williams commented; ‘’I would like to thank Toto for his hard work, dedication and commitment to the team during his time as a Director of the Company. He was a key support to me as Executive Director last season, deputising at a number of races when I was unable to attend.”
“However, positions such as the one offered to him by Mercedes do not come around often. Toto has a long history with them and I certainly was not going to stand in the way of him accepting this once in a lifetime opportunity. Toto will retain his shareholding in Williams and will always have a place at Grove but make no mistake; we will fight him hard on the racetrack!” warned Williams.
“I am sure he will be a strong asset for Mercedes and on behalf of the whole team I would like to wish him the best of luck in his new role. I’m lucky to have a very professional group of people around me and the Company’s Executive Committee will continue the work they have been doing to ensure a successful future for the business,” concluded the veteran F1 team owner.
The move is being seen as a possible setback for Williams as they prepare for the new season starting in Australia on 17 March, as Wolff, an Austrian, was handed a far more hands-on role in July last year, working closely with team founder and principal Williams. He has also guided the career of the team’s newly promoted Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas.
Wolff’s compatriot Niki Lauda, the retired three-times world champion, was appointed non-executive chairman of the board of the Mercedes Formula One team after Haug’s departure was announced last month, while Lewis Hamilton was recruited to team up with Nico Rosberg in the Silver Arrows.
Wolff, whose Scottish wife Susie raced a Mercedes in the DTM, is a shareholder in HWA AG which runs a Mercedes DTM team and works with Mercedes in Formula Three. (Reuters)