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Toto Wolff: An inspiring journey from early tragedy to F1 greatness

Toto Wolff: An inspiring journey from early tragedy to F1 greatness

Toto Wolff: An inspiring journey from early tragedy to F1 greatness

Graham Shaw
Toto Wolff: An inspiring journey from early tragedy to F1 greatness

The story of Torger Christian Wolff - much better known now as 'Toto' - is an extraordinary one, from modest beginnings and early tragedy to one of the most powerful and influential figures in Formula 1.

Born in Vienna, Austria, on January 12, 1972, Wolff excelled at the prestigious Lycee Francais de Vienne as a youngster after his mother, a physician, paid to send him there.

He suffered immense loss early in life when his father died of brain cancer when he was in his teens, but he found solace in motorsport.

Wolff began as a driver, and now as Mercedes team principal, he fills arguably the most prestigious single constructor position in F1.

He is also a massive celebrity now after the huge success of the Netflix F1 documentary series 'Drive to Survive'.

Toto in F1: Dominating with Mercedes

After competing in various motorsport disciplines as a driver, including finishing runner-up in the Austrian Rally Championship in 2006 and winning the Dubai 24 race, Wolff and his business partner Rene Berger turned their attention to buying a stake in the historic Williams team in 2009, joining the board of directors.

He was appointed executive director in 2012, but Mercedes had identified his talent and moved to make him their own executive director in January 2013, with Berger becoming a non-executive director at the same time. Wolff also acquired 30% of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited in the process.

In 2016, Toto assumed control of all motorsport activities within Mercedes, and the team enjoyed a period of unprecedented success.

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as team-mates until 2016 and then Valtteri Bottas, who replaced the German, the team claimed eight consecutive driver and constructor titles from 2014 through 2021.

That glorious run of success ended in 2022 as Wolff's arch rival and Red Bull ended the Silver Arrows dominance.

Mercedes secured titles in F1, F2, and F1 eSports in 2018, proving its prowess in the motorsport world.

Toto Wolff Net Worth

Wolff became an investor and entrepreneur in the tech space while still driving, becoming involved with companies providing engines to the motorsport industry.

German group HWA AG provided F3 engines for Mercedes, while BRR Rallye Racing produced rally parts. Wolff also teamed up with former F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen to find a sports management company that, among others, had Bottas as one of its clients.

Wolff also has an active interest and investment in Formula E, as he is director and CEO of Mercedes EQ Formula E Team, soon to be taken over by McLaren, while his wife, Susie Wolff, was the CEO of Venturi Racing before becoming the managing director of F1 Academy.

READ MORE: Who is Guenther Steiner? Former F1 team boss and Drive to Survive legend

Wolff has been immensely successful in his endeavours, buying into F1 teams at the right time and selling his stake in Williams for significant profit.

Wolff’s total net worth has been estimated to be in the region of $1.2 billion at the time of writing.

Wife and family

Wolff's mother was Polish and his father Romanian, and they gave him the name Toto, a Norwegian word meaning ‘Thor’s javelin’.

Wolff married his wife Susie in 2011, the Scot, who has a highly successful motorsport career in her own right, competing in Formula Renault, Formula 3, and the DTM.

She was a development driver for Williams in 2012 before retiring from F1 altogether in 2015.

Soon after, she gave birth to their son Jack, and she was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to motorsport.

Susie joined Formula E team Venturi Racing as team principal and shareholder, and in November 2021, she was made CEO.

In March 2023, she took on the role of managing director of F1 Academy.

Toto has two children from a previous marriage, Benedict and Rosa.

Wolff speaks a number of languages fluently, including English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Polish.

READ MORE: F1 Schedule 2024: Full calendar with all you need to know about every grand prix

Toto Wolff vs Christian Horner, an epic rivalry

The rivalry between Toto Wolff and his Red Bull Racing counterpart Christian Horner as team principals was for many years cordial, but in the 2021 season it grew exponentially into a weekly war of words as their drivers Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen fought for the drivers' championship.

Horner would later admit that the relationship had become ‘toxic’ as they went after each other publicly most weeks. Wolff, meanwhile, would famously say of Horner: “It’s just an inflated balloon with a microphone in front of its mouth and a camera in front of it".

While the animosity was clear at times, the rivalry provided a gripping subplot to that 2021 title race - one that played out to millions on the hit Netflix documentary series ‘Drive To Survive’. The show brought new fans to the sport of F1 in huge numbers, along with a younger demographic.

The 2022 season brought more Horner vs. Wolff beef, particularly around the porpoising issues suffered by Toto and Mercedes. One acrimonious meeting of team principals, captured by the 'Drive to Survive' cameras, ended with Horner telling Wolff to "change your f***ing car".

There is also an unforgettable scene where Horner sits laughing out loud as he talks about the end of that Mercedes dominance.

Toto Wolff memes as F1 goes viral

Wolff’s reaction to things happening in the paddock and his radio conversations were forever etched in social media folklore following that controversial shootout for the championship in Abu Dhabi in December 2021. Toto memes are now a big thing.

Wolff's response to Michael Masi’s decision during that pivotal late safety car interruption, in particular, has been a hit on the internet.

“No, Michael, no, no, no, it’s not right, it’s not right!” he yelled to the former race director as Masi allowed a number of lapped cars to pass, allowing the title to be decided by racing on the final lap between Hamilton and Verstappen.

Wolff felt aggrieved that Masi had made this decision, and his furious reaction soon made its way across meme culture and onto mugs, posters, and T-shirts.

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