« Desert Island Discs

Toto Wolff, Formula 1 executive

2023-08-27 | 🔗
Toto Wolff is CEO and Team Principal of the Mercedes Formula 1 motor racing team. He has led the team to an unprecedented seven consecutive drivers’ championships – six with Lewis Hamilton - and eight consecutive constructors' championships. He is the most successful manager in Formula 1 history, and arguably one of the most successful managers in any sport. Toto was born Torger Wolff in Vienna. When he was eight his father was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died when Toto was 15. Toto found himself looking after his mother and sister from a young age which he believes contributed to the strength of character he developed as an adult. Toto's original ambition in motorsport was to be a driver, and he started competing in his late teens. Following the deaths of drivers Ayrton Senna and then Roland Ratzenberger, his sponsor withdrew support, which forced him to give up his dream. He turned his attention to business and made a fortune as an entrepreneur. In 2009 he bought a stake in the Williams Formula 1 team and four years later bought a 30% stake in the Mercedes team. Toto is married to the former racing driver Susie Stoddart and they divide their time between the UK and Monaco. Their six-year-old son Jack is already showing an interest in karting. DISC ONE: Unfinished Sympathy - Massive Attack DISC TWO: Mama - Genesis DISC THREE: Money Can’t Buy It - Annie Lennox DISC FOUR: Iron Sky - Paolo Nutini DISC FIVE: We Are The Champions – Queen DISC SIX: Another Day in Paradise - Phil Collins DISC SEVEN: Fallen - Lauren Wood DISC EIGHT: The Power of Love - Frankie Goes to Hollywood BOOK CHOICE: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas LUXURY ITEM: Diving fins and a mask CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Fallen - Lauren Wood Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Paula McGinley
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Previously sounds music. Radio broadcasts, hello, I'm lorna then- and this is the desert island discs podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island and for rights reasons. the music is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening the My castaway this week is the formula one executive
Otto wolf he's the seal, colonna and teen principle at miss eighties. Where he's been at the helm for a decade under his leadership, they ve won an unprecedented seven consecutive drivers championships, six with louis hamilton and eight consecutive constructive championships. This makes him the most successful manager in formula one history, some say in any sport. He was born in vienna in nineteen. Seventy two and fell in love. with motor racing when he was seventeen as he puts it? I found my identity when his own career on the grid didn't work out. He turned his attention to business and made a fortune as an entrepreneur by the early two thousands. He was back racing again this time as a hobby. A decade later he bought a stake in his first formula. One team, the road to success, hasn't always been a smooth one,
when he was just fifteen. He lost his father to cancer in two thousand and nine. He was lucky to escape with his own life when the car he was racing crushed at one hundred and eighty nine miles per hour in two thousand and twenty one. His team's spectacular winning streak came to a controversial end in Abu Dhabi, but he is how you cope and behave in moments of failure is, in my opinion, the way you see right into the soul of somebody total will welcome to desert island discs for deferring total time and again in the articles that I've read about your leadership styled. The word perfectionist is used. How accurate is that describe I think that there is no such thing as a about achieving perfection. It's a pursuit and knowing tat, you never gonna get there, but I think it's within my character that I always try to do two things as good as it can you know, haven't. I the detail- and that has been part of me since I am since a very young people,
They say that I'm a controlled freak and I would say that I agree to it, but then also like perfection. There is no such thing as total control and when it comes to your own, teens when you're on the road you try and cut down, eliminate decision making and fuss. How does that work in your own routine? For me, it is really reducing costs. Trivial things I you, I'm wearing the same clothes, a meeting, the same food even to the point it my assistants book the same hotel room for me: well, ok, everything here and the same food. What's on the menu, then that same doc. Bread is a political with butter. and some harm small cappuccino, because I d coffee cup, I know because I want to have another half an hour later and then it's chicken breast with the tomato salad- and I have the same for the note, so you have said about your attitude to winning that actually, even though you are incredibly competitive, you don't want to win at any cost. You want to win in the right way. What do you mean by that in the dna?
sure where there's so much terrible things happening because of a lack of integrity or honesty or just a lack of humility. I think this is going to totally against our values in the team and that's why, I'd rather lose a championship than cheat it's time for your first desk, but have you chosen and why are you taking it with you today? I love massive attack and unfinished sympathy was the first time that I came across when I was starting back there. Rethinking my late teens. There was long. John, is in the car in the night to the tracks and back going fast only and out the bomb. There were no limits there and it was very motivation. And for me it brought me in the garage frame of mind to go racing. So I could listen to it in a constantly
the massive attack and unfinished sympathy, total wolf. You were born towards wolf in vienna. Your mother Joanna was polish and worked in any statist. Your father's fan was romania and he ran his own transport business if described it as your hero, but with special about him. I think, as a father you, but I remember, is that he was a very loving father when I was a small child. But there is a lot of Marie that I've put together in a way later because
My father became very ill when I was very young than it was a sufferance in the family and for myself, because you father needs to be there to be loved to be hated to fight with, and none of that was there for me anymore, even diagnostic when you were eight with a brain tumor. How much do you remember about what happened between then and he died when you were fifteen? I think yard got worse because old he was getting incapacitated to work. So the company, and down, and from then on. It was a literally every angle of life was a struggle. Did you understand what's happening as a little boy? No, I didn't. I just saw it. You know a father that become Angry for for reason. I remember me the cars being thrown on the floor wine, these things- and that is not at all the character that he was it's just. You have no chance when that thing is in your brain, but I saw how he was fighting that and how he tried to be the best possible way but what I remain wasted from these early age. It's almost like I took over in wooden
family that I had to look after my sister and my mother and to look after him, and we this weakens with him, because my parents divorced afterwards, and it was me trying to make sure that he's in a good space of our relationship didn't survive what he was going to ignore the relationship didn't survive. Was it because of the financial hardship? Did we had your family life had been quite after what you were going to it very good school living in a nice area. How much did things change? They changed overnight. I think from a mouse I was in an affluent area. Suddenly your parents to live to get anymore momentum. A small apartment there were more once where my sister and I had to leave school in the afternoon, because the tuition fees were not paid. So how do you explain to your friends that you have to pack your bags and go home, We explained it to your tenure, sustained the tram and I have dismissed woman's, I in my mind so strongly like a imprint, and you stayed with your mother
Jeanne, when your dad died, she kept the family going, but it must have been extremely difficult for all. If you, how would you describe your relationship with her? My mother was looking off does financially but the rest. I guess I managed she had to leave early as a doctor. You know you have to be in the hospital, seven o clock. She came back late. She had to have your own home life and with apart, no still about not today after forty years, but she had to leave her life and in a way understood saw it was me running the housework? How has what you experienced shaped you as a person. Do you think you don't wish any child tollison tool? such a situation. But it has shaped mean away that my determination is wrong in my resilience. Levels are high know when we don't
farm formula. One doesn't even moved the needle. For me this is so far away from sufferance from pain that I just have to make sure that everybody around me can go through this in a little more stable way. But for me you know if you ve been anna. mentally in a siberian gulag. It's not going to affect you anymore. To being you know, living in a normal world tournaments tend to go to your second track. Today. Tell us what we're going to hear next, I might have chosen mama from genesis, dub, background of the song it's about a young man and probably a six worker, and he just stars for her attention and is something that I can relate to not do the sex workers, but for me personally, dec Oh Mamma is where my mother was had to be a bit remote to protect yourself, and I can relate to the feeling that you are not getting
emotionally. What you feel you? You need a warrant. It's a portal love to prevail should in no way but not fathom purposes, just ten of match sure Genesis mama tutor a wolf, you discovered mode sports later than many of your colleagues. In that will do people tend stop very, very young. You are actually seventeen tell me about that day. We were
by did by a friend, to watch him raising informal three, which is a junior serious minded up on the track, and then came onto the greed, and this is where justice massive explosion, we didn't mean it was clear. This is what I want the two: what was it not capture doing that moment, its control the uncontrollable being able to write that wild horse and trying to in control. That is the fascinating thing that caught me in racing and that was at your compass was set. You pass your driving test. Shortly afterwards. But am I right in thinking that you weren't a natural in the beginning? Did you pass first time? Nor second time was a huge embarrassment, because I was still in and I remember, leaving a lunch break to do the driving test in that it came back at two o clock and they were all. My friends were standing out of traffic and now
failed it. And I remember that the driving teacher told me you and cars- that's not gonna, be very well at least that turned out to be wrong. in nineteen. Eighty, four you when you're category in the neighbouring twenty four hours race is one particular part, the track that knowledge life, whether the north loop on the neighbouring. What so special about that. It's a morning went kilometre long track. You ve, driving through the forest climate, can change. If three kilometres of dry weight and then suddenly, you're driving to arraign wall choose to be told, is still until many people dying every year because it just so fast and add for racing drive out back in the day had also an attraction a careers drive, it didn't work out for you. Why not? What? What went wrong in document before when I was actually at the peak of my turn, your career item, died in two days earlier, on, austrian driver could hold on hot mega and then a falling
containing monocle grumpy. Another austrian got very, very injured and my sponsor who, in a way, looked after all of us headache, dude in any more and that was dead was the killer for me, do that without his support financial support, it wouldn't go and it was very difficult. because I went into an internship in and in a bank worked the bank in warsaw among its borders, and I remember it was so bad. It was hot summer the friends weighed on holiday or recent cars, and I was working in there and guard lunchtimes cried my eyes outlined in the toilet of the office, but I had to push through and it failed right. I started learn about banking, muslim, banking and and the markets and the next dream started, and it was being successful. An investment bank are successful as an investor and it became all encompassing when one
exactly what happened next in a moment, but first we gotta make some room for the music. Your said choice. If you wouldn't mind total wolf, what are we going to hear so that is monica from any lennox for law time in my life? I thought money can buy it, but just move If more and more money doesn't make one more happy, it's not a motivator for you today, then. Is it it still a keep your eye for me and oct, like the lap time, stop watches a performance indicator. Financial success is too, but it is I'm not expecting from it continues. Lol think happiness. True happiness comes up the relationship with my wife. the family and then, of course, we are living in a good life and get to enjoy certain things, but is more her presence. That makes me happy environment. It thanks the
jaws, it it The money can buy it Annie, lennox till the wolf you set up. Eventually, little company with a friend and enjoyed enormous success, investing in new tech companies, so you could afford to return to motor racing as a driver. This terms a hobby in two thousand and nine. You find yourself back on the nordschleife life away, you'd raced fifteen years before. Why did you return? It was said that only locals can really before there and you had provisions that were very successful on an international level that went to the knowledge life and, whenever able to be anywhere near local, so mister. I'm gonna show them that I can beat the records- and I told Nicky who Macleod had is better
didn't there were he almost died in flames and he said to me: don't be so stupid. Nobody cares. Both the left them on the knowledge. Laugh, you just need. You can kill yourself. Look at me. What was the records that you were trying to break on the new cipher, so the previous record for the knowledge loafer twenty kilometres was seven minutes five seconds and on one of the training lapses. Beat the record for seconds he shaved off. I think in the joined up yet, but the kind of never felt stable. There was something to the tires where we're just not good enough for this kind of downfall. and eventually, when we went for the wrong name back, I started to laugh and I felt something's wrong, but this is where I realized you need to be a professional, because I should have stopped the lap and and drove back into the pits and aborted, and I didn't because I was just with the knife between my teeth. I just wanted to do it and then a puncture that most dangerous pardner down here and there very, very bad, chant one hundred
Eighty nine miles per hour? The first impact was with twenty seven jeez and the root cause ruled several times at high speed, but it didn't end up in the forest was lucky, but I always came back. I always came back onto the track and enough to three and fifteen meet the car stopped and I was badly injured, but instinctively unplugged myself from the radio and stop the car which was stopped anyway already so I gotta know you know it was really. an instinct and got out, and they found me behind a real with my helmet on lying in the grass, and I thought I was dead so nor memories in that the first memory that came back was in the ambulance, feeling some kind we're tingling my legs, and that was not the nice moment. What was that moment. Was that an epiphany for you? Yes, that was you know coming back to what mickey loudest nobody cares, and why do you put yourself in the danger? I thought if this ends up being a paralysis. This was really the most stupid idea in my life and I remember, being into the hospital and into an mri and
than announced came in, and I said to her just let me know If everything is a ride with my spine and she said to me, I can tell you and beast: I dunno how long it was fifteen minutes until the doctor came in and said. Yes, you have some practice, but your spinal cord isn't the fact that that was horrible. Fifteen minutes, and yet that was the moment. I said to myself no more competitive racing. It's time for summer, music Tosa will be a fourth choice. Today What have you got for and why you taken it to the desert, and so the next one is another super strong one iron sky by poland, the teenager he scottish to my wife, my wife's family scottish delay it's about iron sky is something that I can relate to because it says about when you can imagine it, you can do it and not. Let anybody tell you that it is impossible, my download
not this harsh back the iron sky by Paolo nutini, toto wolff in twenty thirteen with a thirty percent stake in the mercedes formula, one team. It is unusual for team principles to own part of their team, and so will you. Critics have been disparaging about your commercial instincts. They say your decision to too heavily based on the balance sheet. How'd you answer people sometimes question my motivation and but it is to stop which only if I would give up
and dividend to win the world championship, because that is what what drives me. But I guessed it was for some of the critical voices or the you know, you're trying to find points of attack and at the end it's also a conventional business that hopefully yields returns and at sometimes not something that Other people like under your stewardship, your team, one, a record breaking number of championships, does every one of those victories: tasty, sweet, lloyd doesn't, then that is a reason why sports teams generally don't win many championships in a row. I tried to compare it to christmas eve. You know the first one is much better than the eight and we had eight championships in a row and therefore you need to understand that and accept and acknowledge that
If you get used to it, there's always a risk of seeing desserts as normal, a complacency that can kicking or simply lack of motivation and energy, and it's normal and it's good. But if you're able to set those objectives overcome spells of negative space, like we having at the moment reinvent the team without throwing overboard. What's good, you can create something that is sixteen and be successful, and that is my pocket. How would you describe your relationship with limits? Hamilton Louis has become, and until we years we ve gone through difficult, spells and and and very good mormons. We, we celebrated many championships with discussions. Among cells, which are not always easy, but today he says Friend, he's an hour later, the best racing drive in the world. I am very proud of being part of his career. How do you deal with disagreements when they come around. What's your dynamic between the two of you, I think we have learned and
a key moment was in that the end of two thousand, sixteen, where we didn't speak to each other for a while. The sole invited him to come to my kitchen in oxford and said I and have a chat, and the kind of analogy I gave to him is that also have from arguments would susie, even if we shall don't each other, which didn't happen a lot, but even if we have this argument and there's never thought divorcing and that's why I said to him: I don't want to divorce you and needed to you, because I want the best racing driven in our cars and you want to have the best car. So we came to the conclusion that we can have a conflict. We can create an anathema fear where we are able to be brutally honest with each other and sometimes it we agree to this green, but we move on looking at your music. Last year choices to down wondering whether you agree or music. Not always I mean he he has. The drivers have the room. Next to me,
at the tracks, and I hear him singing when preparing for the races- and I think most often we'll have a similar music taste of italy's is much more sophisticated. But many years ago I said to him: what would you think you know him if we were to play ac dc thunderstruck in a garage before going out with the cars and in a way to have all the the mechanics listen to this and he said would make me puke? Not a metal fan is not up his street. I guess. It's one of your choices, toto you can take whatever you like to your own island. What's next, it sounds a bit cheesy at first and obviously it's queen, so it's never cheesy, but the song itself is sometimes played in that. You know moments where it can be a bit cheesy and it's we are the champions and that song Lee. We played it many times when we celebrated, I will raise victories and championships its third. The emotion together in the team, with the people that are involved in the bond, the tribe that we have created to this debate,
attached it unless the queen
and we are the champions toto, wolff, you're, a key character in the netflix documentary series formula, one drive to survive in twenty twenty one. The cameras captured your intense frustration during the Abu Dhabi. Grand prix lewis was on course, to take his eighth world championship, but max verstappen from the red bull team took advantage of controversial safety car procedures to beat him in an extremely tense final lap. How do you look back at that moment now? Boards drivers start with equal points into this race, best man and best machine winds and best men that they didn't win, and it's still something that that's things not of losing it, because I would have been able, when all of us would have been able to lose, that
is fair and square and admit that, but it was stolen and that made it that made it difficult year. Faye was with its next regime. A new president was voted in literally. That months was able to admit that a mistake was made, and it was human error, that's how they called it, but obviously that was not bringing us to the trophy back and was not making louis that only a time while champ But you just need to overconfident, and I think louis and I are very similar in that respect. We be able to compare them allies, but it is what it is much worse. Things happen in the world than being stolen of awoke from one. Why championship.
The interesting phenomenon was that we as a team and lose as a driver. We didn't have a lot of credit and sympathy because we want so many times and we became the underdog. In that moment, people cheered for us, and that is still a positive today. What was he ever did that feel, like team had, would have rather won the championship, but today we we have more fans. Sir lose his contract is up at the end of the season. Do you want him to stay? Absolutely mister, such an important pillar of the team? Do you think he will stay when I very much hope I'm doing everything I can. make him stay. How will you persuade him? I think, there's no need to persuade him. He knows about all the goodness and to call the week we struggled with the car this year and last year. Key will be part of the resurrection of the team time to go through music disc number. Six. What are we going to hear next and why the next one is another phil Collins, it's just coincidence. Actually that is Phil
it's twice, but the voice and the drums are just amazing and it's another day in Paradise. Not only do I love the song itself, but in today's world everything is so self centered people never reflect about others' lives or tragedies, and I think we need to be mindful that we are living in Paradise. The lives that we are able to enjoy because we are born in the right place at the right time and it is important for us to remind ourselves about that, and we don't do that enough me this. Well, you
It starts with cross. Collins and another day in paradise- total wolf, one of the things that you ve been very open about your own mental health and your experiences of depression, why is it important to you to talk about them. the words depression and anxiety. The twin brought us in all of that is linked together, but nobody speaks about it enough, and I felt that when I suffered from this episode in the past that high performance didn't have to and it made me suffer even more because I thought I'm not gonna be ever based in what I do, because I have those bad moment and today I don't have any insecurity anymore about myself. I dont perceive myself at all us, powerless the contrary. I think
This is what people will see me my role as well. I'm having this media persona off the success routine principles. It has it all and at the end of the day, what I want to say is even strong man and woman people did a successful in the public eye. Suffer that's why you can suffer its. Allow and I want to have to take that stigma way because you can achieve anything in the world. Even though you have moments where you don t you set out and ease up there, people twenty years. I think I wonder how that if that's helped, you understand that perhaps those anxieties, perhaps those moments of of doubt and depression or a mixed. In with what has made you successful. It's part of its connected to the drive, isn't it absolutely I wouldn't want to not have it I've moments where would know how to make the next day, but it is based on my childhood,
differences in my own trawl, mind the humiliation, but you asked me to day whether I want to get rid of it, and I tell you know I don't want to because it's a superpower. It makes me more sensitive, I can feel a room. I can feel the energy. You cannot expect all the highs without having the laws you feed moments and situations which much more intensity between the middle, and I take the positives with the negatives you married, you, second wife cecy in twenty eleven cheese of former racing driver herself and still works in sport today. Do you ask for advice? Is always I think our really She is a very well balanced and she has certain, skills did. I don't have the other way around We will work, same industry, and I think that makes it both stronger. He does driving she's much marks, an intelligent than mutually me to driving and had me those little successes. Are you
How are you as a back driver, the worse candidates, control freak that needs to give up control and then she said to me that she can live with it since she saw me, being full of panic, wise being in the passenger seat, would lose hamilton won, in the short run? If you can't trust the seven time world champion, then it's okay to not trust strategies. It's about you! It's not about the drive! It's my problem, not the drivers problem got it it's time for your seventh disc today to say what are we going to hear next? the next one is super positive emotion from aids fallen, belarus vote song dead
We played at our wedding in capri with a gospel singer in the church. That was a beautiful moment, can leave it at that to be falling low, would tilted wolf, youngest son jack, is six and he's already shown quite an interest carting. How would you feel if you wanted to become a racing driver he's very?
that, if in everything he does in the car can he can relate to and that's why standing on the contract and watching him is please I'm torn, and I see how much he loves it, but I also see the dangers of motor racing overall. putting a keeping go garden in the race car without actually these guys, the standing? What do the risks and the term unplumbable? parents in law and my mother anyway, you I can't stop them, so their are fusty minute, an inner. You mentioned that you're not blind to the risks and and not, downsides of this poor either. I know that your daughter has taken to task about the environmental impact of motor racing. What d say tat are, and how do you balance the industry's demand with your role is apparent when you talk about formerly wanted to big companies to it if the sustainability, but it's the contrary, because we will show how it can be done with delight
if possible emissions, so we are spending a lot of money and running our site. Net zero to date is with really fifty percent c, o two free emissions and energy, green energy and fifty percent, but still offsetting It's gonna go to seventy five percent running the most efficient hybrid engines in the world will be utilizing a hundred percent biofuel in twenty twenty six, and we want to show a blueprint how you can travel and how you can transport goods around the world with the smallest possible c, o two footprint. Total. You ve lived your life at considerable velocity, but everything is about to change, because I'm going to cost you away to the desert island. so you're gonna slow right down? How will you adjust to the new pace of life. So, when I'm in a good mental space, you can
fuck me on the island and I'm going to enjoy every single day. What I need is my head, so I can think, will you try and escape? I will always try to find a solution to change a situation that I don't like, while one more track before we cast you away your eighth choice today. What's it going to be, Frankie goes to hollywood and the power of love. It is a love song, but it is a love song that is about protecting your family, protecting the people around you that you care and that's how I feel about the relationship to my wife, to my children, to my family, to my friends to my employees
themes are like a big key bad thing that the scary darkness yeah. I love food, so maybe, The power of love. Frankie goes to hollywood, so totally wealth and coup d send you away to the island, I'm giving you the bible, the complete works. If shakespeare and you could take one other book, what will it be? It's a big issue, but it's the count of monte cristo burn example. Duma did he's about unfairness, injustice,
it's happening, but then the revenge always comes to personal. Tell you can relate to absolutely you just have to have the patience. You can also have a luxury item. What would you like fins and mask I'm really into, free, diving and, like the kindness and the water being by myself. It also linked to a record holding I'd like to well how deep I can go and how long I can hold my breath headlong. How long can you hold it for? Well, it depends how the harm in shape, but I would say, holding my breath, it can do four and a half five minutes if a train, a bit the summer holidays, and I can go thirty metres down, but it needs the right environment. You need to have somebody diving with you mean I had an incident in, we want to hold it in. I tried to do with the message: came up with blood.
Nice. Now I don't want that on the island owes you gonna have to find a monkey to train or something there are no people that I will do it, but which lists a pip, ok and finally, which one track of the eight that you ve shared with us to David. You rush to save from the waves. If you happy I would save fallen because it would May I make my wife and how I can get off the island quickly to see her titty will. Thank you I mean much for letting us hear your desert island discs. Thank you for having me the aloe. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with toto or take him at his word and trust that he won't dive. deeply. We ve castaway other petrol heads, including F one champions, Jackie, Stuart non jones and the motor racing commentator Maureen
and any lennox one of toto's music choices in there too. You can find these episodes in a desert. Island discs programme archive untrue bbc sends the studio manager for two days programme was Jackie marjoram. These system producer was christine Pavlovsk II and the producer was pull him again next time my guest will be the folks singer.
early collins. I do hope, you'll join us. The have you suffered from a horrible trauma. Is it affecting your day to day life? If you suffer from ptsd, you can try our new pill reset from BBC radio. Four, the one trial are you drug, better pale? It doesn't cure ptsd, quite the opposite, an audio drama series. What was asked? Okay, Mary? What happened here in the lab carl he's in the hospital available on BBC signs.
Transcript generated on 2023-08-28.