Formula 1: Toto Wolff's 'non-negotiables' behind continued Mercedes success


Had you told Toto Wolff back in 2013 when he arrived at the Mercedes Formula One team that he’d be on the verge of overseeing the most dominant period the sport has ever seen from a constructor, he may well have laughed you out of the room.

Joining after a few years on the board at Williams, Wolff began to lay the foundations for one of the great dynasties in sport, let alone motorsport, with Mercedes winning every Constructors’ and Drivers’ title on offer between 2014 and 2020, getting it absolutely pitch perfect as Formula 1 brought in a swathe of new technical regulations better known as the turbo-hybrid era.

A racing driver in his younger years in GT categories among others and also a highly successful businessman and investor, Wolff’s initial aim was to turn Mercedes into *the* front-running team in the sport, knocking Red Bull off of their perch.

Certainly, he and his colleagues have done that and then some, eclipsing Ferrari‘s seemingly untouchable dominance from the early 00s in the last decade and, heading into 2021, they remain the team to beat – with Red Bull eagerly trying to take the fight to them this year.

Indeed, this season, arguably, looks set to offer the Mercedes garage their biggest fight since their dominance swept through the sport, and fans around the world are excited after race one in Bahrain to see just whether Max Verstappen and the Red Bull team can really beat Lewis Hamilton and the Mercs across 23 races.

For Wolff, it’s another challenge to be met and certainly one he’ll be relishing and, based on previous performance, you’d be silly to bet against them making it eight titles in a row by December this year.


What keeps him ticking, though? In a fascinating chat with the High Performance Podcast, Wolff revealed his three ‘non-negotiables’ that he lives by to ensure success is achieved both on and off the track again and again.


In previous podcasts, guests such as Eddie Jones and Mauricio Pochettino have been asked about their three ‘non-negotiables’ – principles that they will always stand by – and here are Wolff’s.

“Number one, never, ever lie, because I will lose all respect.

“Number two, don’t b******** me, because I will find out.

“Number three, be authentic with all your weaknesses and strengths, because even with your weaknesses, you can contribute to my life and you can contribute to the team’s success.”

It’s perhaps no surprise that all three rather have similar traits at their core; honesty and integrity.


Wolff has worked in high pressure environments for his whole life, whether that be in investing or in motorsport, and in such areas you need to get to the facts and establish what needs to be improved quickly or you’ll either lose serious money or get left behind by your competitors.

Keeping that humility throughout Mercedes’ successful years has been a key trait of theirs. It keeps them grounded and hungry to always want more – it’s perhaps no surprise they’ve been as successful as they have.

For more incredibly insightful interviews with elite sportsmen, women and entrepreneurs, make sure you subscribe to the High Performance Podcast on iTunes.

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