Toto Wolff: ‘We Always Believe We Are Not Good Enough’

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, Friday - Toto Wolff (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

According to Toto Wolff, if you were to listen in on the post-session debriefings of Mercedes, one would believe that the team were Williams.

The Silver Arrows have dominated the turbo-hybrid era since 2014, but find themselves in an unusual position, trailing Red Bull in both World Championships in 2021 after six rounds.

Mercedes always sceptical of their own success says Toto Wolff

Wolff has provided insight into how Mercedes has been able to achieve success over the years despite its recent struggles.

“When you listen to a debrief today after a weekend where we finish first and second, you would think this is Williams debriefing from a weekend on a tenth place,” Wolff said at an Oxford University talk titled ‘Leadership in Extraordinary Times’.

“I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. It is just a culture that is always sceptical and we always believe we are not good enough and have to stay on our toes in order to maintain our success and that starts with sometimes going where it hurts.

“They say that if you don’t go there then you are not going to improve as an organisation and it needs to start with all of us leading the organisation.”

The fact that Wolff takes a “brutal” approach to the truth is an important tenet because it is in these moments where lessons are truly learned.

“Brutal transparency within the organisation.

“We need to be able to learn from our mistakes because there are just two options.

“You make a mistake and you cover it up or you are not in a safe place to talk about it or utilise it as an opportunity to develop and learn.

“I have heard a sentence that when it stings it sticks. Painful moments in the races are the ones that make us progress the most.

“In that respect, every weekend is about brutal analysis of what is happening in the days after the weekend and then utilising those learnings for the next race to come and for the future development of every component in the car.

“So it comes back down to the culture of really being transparent with each other because we share the same objective, creating a safe environment and using the power of the collective intelligence if the people in order to solve the problems,” concluded Wolff.

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