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Inside decades of mental struggle for Mercedes boss Toto Wolff

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Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff. Photo/The SportRush
  • Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team principal Toto Wolff was seeing a psychiatrist from 2004
  • He still goes to therapy but this never stopped him from conquering the world
  • He advises people to always take care of themselves above everything else

Many Formula One (F1) lovers know Toto Wolff for the determination his Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team exudes on the tracks but nothing tells of his mental struggles.

Despite his support and leadership that saw Mercedes win the championships for years, Wolff was always battling a mental illness. The team whose golden boy is Lewis Hamilton scooped its seventh title in 2020.

A strong man he is that only his close family members knew about it.

WHO IS TOTO WOLFF?

Born on 12 January 1972, Toto Wolff was raised by a Polish mother and Romanian father in Vienna, Austria.

He attended the Vienna State Opera. His mother was a doctor, thus he grew up in the medical field. Despite the fact that his family is not exceedingly wealthy, he was raised in the city and attended a French school.

Wolff was only eight years old when his father was diagnosed with brain cancer. And as fate would have it, his parents divorced thereafter.

He would later grow up without him following his death when he was just a teenager.

Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff. Photo/Mirror

HOW DID TOTO WOLFF END UP IN MOTORSPORTS?

The Austrian Formula Ford Championship began Wolff’s racing career in 1992. He also competed in German Formula Ford in 1993 and 1994, where he won the title.

His class won the 24 Hours Nürburgring in 1994. One race in 2002 saw Wolff finish sixth in the N-GT division of the FIA GT Championship and win.

In 2003, Tom Wolff switched to the Italian GT Championship, where he won a race alongside Lorenzo Case in 2004. He also raced in the FIA GT Championship with Karl Wendlinger.

As a result of his efforts, Wolff won the Dubai 24 Hour Rally in 2006, as well as the Austrian Rally Championship in 2006.

As an instructor at the Walter Lechner Racing School, Wolff also set a lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a Porsche RSR in 2009.

The Mercedes EQ Formula E Team is also overseen by Wolff.

HOW DID TOTO WOLFF JOIN MERCEDES-AMG PETRONAS F1 TEAM?

As a shareholder in Williams Formula One Team, Tom Wolff was elected to the company’s board of directors in 2009.

He became the Executive Director of Williams F1, and Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix for the team. It was the last win for the team under Wolff’s leadership.

Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff. Photo/The Sun

In January 2013, Wolff resigned from his position as executive director to join Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team as a non-executive director.

In addition to being a managing partner, he also purchased 30 per cent of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Previously, Norbert Haug was in charge of all Mercedes-Benz motorsport activities but Wolff assumed that role.

At the end of 2014, Wolff sold his Williams stake to American billionaire Brad Hollinger for $230 million. Wolff sold his Williams team’s remaining shares on March 9, 2016.

Mercedes won its seventh title in 2020 under his leadership.

HOW LONG HAS TOTO WOLFF BATTLE MENTAL ILLNESS?

Unknown to many and masked by the façade of such a high-flying career, Tom Wolff started mental illness in 2004.

The Mercedes team principal talked about his own mental health problems in a very open interview with The Times.

He said that “high-profile people” need to be more open about their mental health, and that Mercedes needs to do more to help people with mental health problems.

“I’ve been going to a psychiatrist since 2004. I think I’ve had more than 500 hours [of therapy]. I have suffered mentally and I still do,” he said.

There aren’t many F1 people who have talked about their mental health recently. Wolff is one of them.

He says his mental struggle stems from not just being in the spotlight but also indecisiveness in life.

His advice is always to look after yourself and strive to keep your mental health in perfect shape.

Christian Horner, the Red Bull boss – an almost sworn enemy of Wolff – lauded him for speaking out about his mental struggles for years.

It’s been a long-running feud between Horner and Wolff, and he is glad Wolff decided to talk about his problems.

“I think all credit to Toto for having the courage to talk out about his issues with mental health.

“It is something that there is much more of a spotlight on these days, and I think that it is something in this business we are acutely aware of and something that we’re looking to be proactive on.”

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