Toto Wolff – F1 entrepreneur

As different as success stories can be, there are elements that most of them share. Setbacks, big or small, for instance, can happen to anybody at any time.

Share this page

How you deal with them and come out the other side will eventually define your success, according to Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. "Success shouldn't be judged at halftime. The day you retire you need to judge whether you've been successful or not.", he says.

The position Toto finds himself in today is a perfect example of successfully overcoming a professional disappointment. His fascination for motorsport was sparked at a Formula 3 race at the age of 17, yet the entrepreneur soon had to come to terms with not having found his vocation in racing - despite scoring a class win at the 1994 24 Hours Nürburgring, he felt his skillset wasn´tquite rightfor a career as a professional driver. "In a world of specialists, you need to understand where your talent is and develop it.", says the businessman. Passion, he adds, is another key to success. He went on to pursue a career in banking, dedicating himself to building up his own investment companies in 1998 and 2004.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and several steps toward merging the investment business with his passion for racing, Toto is appointed Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport at the end of 2013. He now has full responsibility for the entire Mercedes-Benz motorsport program, from Formula One to DTM, sports cars, the Formula 3 engine program - and a team of 1200 people. "Whatever I do today is because the right people support me and I support them and the result is the result of a group," he says, pointing out the combination of skills and character that all the members of his team exhibit. He goes on to stress the importance of learning constantly throughout life: "As an adult, entrepreneur or employee you tend to forget that you can still develop new skill sets. We shouldn't stand still." The successful F1 entrepreneur describes himself as being in a constant loop of self-judgment, finding it important to see yourself in a realistic light.

What he never does is take risks. "I try to create a worst-case scenario and if I can cope with that scenario, I launch myself into the project." Characterizing himself as a half-empty glass kind of guy, Toto is convinced that in order to succeed, "you should never feel too comfortable, because the moment you think it´s easy is the moment you're going to fail."