Who is Toto Wolff?
Toto Wolff is an Austrian businessman and former racing driver, who is currently the Team Principal and CEO of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Under his leadership, Mercedes has won multiple Constructors’ Championships, cementing its status as a dominant force in the sport. He is also a co-owner of the Mercedes team, having acquired a 30% stake in 2013. Toto’s influence extends beyond his teams, as he is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in modern Formula One. Before his tenure at Mercedes, Toto had a significant investment in the Williams F1 team.
Early Life and Family
Born Torger Christian Wolff on 12 January 1972, in Vienna, Austria, Toto is the son of a Romanian father, and a Polish mother through whom Toto has Jewish ancestry, but was raised Catholic. He studied at the Lycee Francais de Vienne, a prestigious francophone school.
Despite hailing from a family that had no involvement with the world of motorsports, Toto’s love for racing was ignited from an early age. He started his racing journey at the age of 18, showing a natural talent for speed and precision.
Toto’s professional racing career kicked off in 1992, when he competed in the Austrian Formula Ford Championship. In 1994, he won the 24 Hours Nürburgring race in his category, an accomplishment that put him on the international racing map. Six years later, he competed in the FIA GT Championship, finishing sixth overall, and winning one race. In 2003, he won a race alongside Lorenzo Case at the Italian GT Championship.
Toto reached the heights of his racing career in 2006, when he won the Dubai 24 Hour, and finished second in the Austrian Rally Championship.
He stopped racing professionally shortly after that and began serving as an instructor at the Walter Lechner Racing School in 2009. He also had overall responsibility for the Mercedes EQ Formula E Team.
Toto’s involvement with Formula One began in 2009 when he bought a share of the Williams Team, and joined its board of directors. His tenure at Williams was transformative for the team, with his leadership propelling them to their last race win at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix with Pastor Maldonado. This marked the end of his association with Williams, as he sold his shares in the team in stages, culminating in 2016.
In 2013, Toto embarked on a new journey with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. As an executive director, he joined forces with his business partner Rene Berger, taking up a 30% stake in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Taking over from Norbert Haug, Toto then assumed the responsibility of co-ordinating all Mercedes-Benz motorsport activities, a new role which required not only a deep understanding of the sport, but also a strategic vision for the future of Mercedes in Formula One.
Under Toto’s guidance, the team won five consecutive double world championship titles, between 2014 and 2018, a feat that had previously only been achieved by Ferrari from 1999 through 2004.
In 2018, Toto also led the team to the most successful year in the history of Mercedes-Benz. In addition to both F1 titles, the company won titles in F2, European F3, DTM competition, F1 eSports, and numerous championships in customer racing.
Mercedes’ dominance continued in 2020, as they set a new record, securing a seventh double world championship in a row. In addition, their F1 driver Lewis Hamilton became the most successful driver in terms of race wins, tying the record held by Michael Schumacher. The following year saw the team clinch an eighth consecutive constructors’ world championship.
Mercedes has seen extraordinary success since the introduction of the turbo-hybrid regulations in 2014. Of the 192 races since then, Mercedes has won 112 under Toto’s stewardship. In addition, the team has secured 119 of 192 pole positions, 74 front-row lockouts, and 254 from 384 possible podium finishes, all records which underscore Toto’s influential role in shaping Mercedes’ dominance in the sport.
Toto’s winning percentage since joining Mercedes in 2013 is an astounding 55%. After the 2020 F1 season, he renewed his commitment to the Mercedes team, signing a new deal to continue as the principal and CEO for at least another three years.
Toto’s dedication and success hasn’t gone unnoticed. He was awarded the John Bolster Award from Jean Todt at the 2018 Autosport Awards, followed by the President’s Award at the FIA Prize Giving Gala in St Petersburg, Russia. These awards serve as a testament to Toto’s transformative role in Mercedes, and the larger Formula One landscape.
Outside of Formula One, Toto is a successful investor and entrepreneur. His first venture into the business world began after graduating from the Vienna University of Economics. He founded his own investment company, Marchfifteen in 1998, which specialized in internet and technology companies. In 2004, he established Marchsixteen Investments, focusing more on strategic investments in medium-sized industrial and listed companies.
Toto has also taken up key positions in several high-profile companies. He served as a board member of the German HWA AG, which competes in various motorsport categories, including Formula 3, where he helped guide the careers of budding racing drivers. In addition, he’s a partner in BRR Rallye Racing, one of the largest rally parts dealers in Europe.
Further demonstrating his passion for motorsport, Toto co-owns a racing team with former F1 driver Mika Häkkinen that competes in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM).
One of Toto’s notable investments outside motorsport was in the technology and electrical sector. In 2016, he invested in HERE, a global map data and location service provider, alongside other prominent business figures such as Dieter Zetsche and Ralf Speth. He has also been reported to hold stakes in various technology firms, including Brring, a London-based start-up, and has shown interest in FinTech, a rapidly growing sector that merges finance and information technology.
Apart from these, Toto has invested in real estate and even vineyards, diversifying his investment portfolio across a wide range of sectors.
Toto’s success is not only limited to the business world and the racetrack. In 2008, he completed his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the Vienna University of Economics and Business with distinction. This achievement reflects Toto’s dedication to continuous learning and personal development, characteristics that he brings to bear in his roles within Formula One and his various business ventures.
In May 2021, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Cranfield University in Bedford, United Kingdom, for his achievements in the world of motorsport. In November of the same year, he became an Associate Fellow of the prestigious Oxford Business School.
In March 2022, Toto visited Harvard upon discovering that his leadership of the Mercedes F1 team was the subject of a Harvard Business School (HBS) study. Two months later, he was named an executive fellow at HBS, a role he is set to fulfill alongside Professor Anita Elberse after finishing his tenure at Oxford University.
Love Life and Wife
Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman, and for Toto, that’s Susie Wolff, a former professional racing driver herself. Susie competed in the German Touring Car Masters series for several years, before becoming a development and test driver for the Williams Formula One team.
In 2014, Susie became the first woman in over two decades to participate in a Formula One race weekend when she took part in practice sessions at both the German and British Grand Prix. Although she never competed in a full F1 race, her work in the sport was a significant step forward for women in motor racing. After retiring from driving, she continued her involvement in motorsport, including a role as Team Principal for the Venturi Formula E team.
Toto and Susie married in October 2011. Both of them have had successful careers in motorsport, albeit in different roles. Despite their involvement in the same industry, they’ve kept their professional lives separate to a large extent. In 2017, they welcomed their son, Jack; the family resides in Monaco.
Toto’s successful ventures, both in and outside of Formula One, have led to an impressive net worth. As of July 2023, Toto’s net worth is estimated to be in the range of $1.1 billion, a reflection of his astute business investments, strategic leadership roles, and profit shares from his successful teams.