Williams not replacing Gillan or Wolff

Williams is not planning to replace Mark Gillan, the chief operations engineer who was credited with helping the team recover its lost form in 2012. Gillan left Williams late last year, but at the time the Grove based team did not say if it intended to recruit from elsewhere to fill the vacancy.

“You have to remember,” said chief designer Mike Coughlan on Tuesday, “there’s a lot of people moving forward in their careers.”

Coughlan had been asked by Britain’s Sky Sports if Williams were now actively on the market to replace figures like Gillan, and the Mercedes-defector Toto Wolff.

“We look at it as one door closing, another door opening,” Coughlan continued, “and a tremendous opportunity for some young people. What you may lose in experience, you certainly make up for in dedication,” he added.

Asked again if Williams is looking to directly replace Gillan or Wolff in the short term, Coughlan insisted: “No, not at all.”

Wolff to ‘keep an eye’ on Williams’ Bottas

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ new co-owner and director, has admitted he will be keeping an eye on rookie Valtteri Bottas’ progress in 2013.

Before switching to Mercedes, Austrian Wolff had the very same role at Williams, where last year Finn Bottas, 23, was groomed for a future race seat as reserve driver.

Now, as the youngster steps up to race, Wolff has jumped ship.

But Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper quotes Wolff as saying: “I am still involved as an investor of Valtteri’s, and of course he is my friend.

“Didier Coton however is looking after his contracts and the business side, and Mika Hakkinen is also involved,” he revealed.

“I’m very happy for him (Bottas) and I will be keeping an eye on how he gets on. You don’t just take off your blue shirt (Williams) and put on a white one and leave everything behind. I am still fond of the Williams family and a hope they do well.”


New Mercedes boss Wolff starts work on Monday

Mercedes’ new recruit Toto Wolff has revealed he will be based at Brackley.

A new team shareholder and officially called executive director, 41-year-old Austrian Wolff is in essence replacing Norbert Haug, Mercedes’ long-time motor sport vice-president.

“These are very large shoes to fill,” he said in an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF. “He (Haug) did a lot of things extremely well.

“It has not gone as expected last year and now we have to figure out what happened,” said Wolff. “But Norbert certainly was not working on the car.

“Anyway, I think it is important to be on site. I hope I do a good job in England,” he added.

Niki Lauda, the team’s chairman, will also be in Brackley this week, but the triple world champion will not be based in the UK full-time.

Wolff explained: “It is important that there is someone on site who understands the English mentality.”

Also still a Williams shareholder and co-owner of Mercedes’ DTM company HWA, Wolff has bought 30 per cent of the Brackley based team.

“I would really like to say (how much he paid), but I have signed something that obliges me to secrecy,” said Wolff.

“Niki and I are partners, we therefore carry some of the risk, which was important for Mercedes. We have a big responsibility and I am very proud to own a company together with Mercedes — how many people can say that?

“I am responsible for business operations and therefore Brackley, Niki is chairman of the company — so the formula one team and the formula one engine company.

“He (Lauda) has no operational role, but he is of great help with his valuable contacts and know-how.

“Ross Brawn is responsible for the technical side,” added Wolff.


Lauda and Wolff buy into Mercedes team

Mercedes on Monday announced that Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff are buying into the Brackley based F1 team.

It had already emerged that Wolff, who like Mercedes’ F1 chairman Lauda is from Vienna, is leaving Williams, despite becoming executive director only last July.

But Grove based Williams said on Monday that Wolff, whilst leaving the famous British team, “will retain his shareholding”.

“Positions such as the one offered to him by Mercedes do not come around often,” Sir Frank Williams said.

“Toto has a long history with them and I certainly was not going to stand in the way of him accepting this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

As well as continuing to co-own Williams, 41-year-old Wolff will “acquire a significant minority interest” in Mercedes’ F1 team, the German carmaker announced.

He will also “head that company (the Mercedes team) as its executive director”, a media statement added.

Mercedes did not disclose the size of triple world champion Lauda’s new team share.


Wolff to succeed Haug at Mercedes

Toto Wolff, the Williams shareholder who manages Valtteri Bottas and only last July became an executive director, is leaving the Oxfordshire based team.

The mass-circulation German newspaper Bild reports that the 41-year-old Austrian, a former racing driver, is replacing the recently departed Norbert Haug as Mercedes’ motor sport chief.

He has almost certainly been appointed by the marque’s new F1 chairman Niki Lauda, the triple world champion who – like Wolff – is from Vienna, Austria.

As well as owning shares in Williams, Wolff also has a stake in HWA, the German company that runs Mercedes’ DTM programme.

Mercedes would not comment, and neither would Williams. But Bild claimed the news is likely to be announced officially at the DTM test in Valencia, which starts on Tuesday.

Reports estimate the value of Wolff’s Williams shareholding at up to EUR 40 million.


Wolff unlikely to remain driver manager

Toto Wolff, a shareholder and director of the Williams team, doubts he will continue his role of driver manager. That is despite the Austrian’s latest charge, Valtteri Bottas, having successfully risen through the ranks to make his Formula One debut in 2013.

But Wolff told Switzerland’s Motorsport Aktuell that 22-year-old Finn Bottas is more an exception than the rule.

Rather, “If you now need 100,000 for a national karting season, and 250,000 euros for international, then eventually the level (of the drivers) will drop.” But Wolff said he hopes drivers with little money but big talent will still be able to rise through the ranks in future. A current example, he said, is Bottas.

“He never had much money, but he always had support, just because he was good,” Wolff insisted.

But actually, he said managing motor racing drivers is a “thankless job”.

“If the target fails,” said Wolff, “everything’s the fault of the manager. If everything goes smoothly, you never know what happens — some drivers are champions of short memory.”

He said he has no plans to repeat the Bottas project with another young talent.

“If you have to put two million on the table for GP2, then driver management makes little sense,” said Wolff.


Wolff: Bottas has time to reach full potential

Williams will give Valtteri Bottas at least half a season to get up to speed.

After a full season of preparation as the famous British team’s reserve driver last year, practising on most Friday mornings at grands prix, 22-year-old rookie Bottas will make his full time race debut in 2013. And the young Finn can’t wait.

“Well, it was mentally tough,” he told the MTV3 broadcaster, referring to 2012. “At the end of practice just when I had found a rhythm in the car I then had to give it back. And I knew that I would have kept improving if only I could have driven more,” said Bottas.

“As I then watched the race, of course I thought about what I might have been able to do. It was not so easy. Especially the weekends where I could not drive at all — they were very long,” he smiled.

The team, however, will be urging Bottas to be patient. Williams co-owner Toto Wolff, who is also involved in the young driver’s management, said the 22-year-old will enjoy some “puppy protection”.

“He needs mileage and racing experience,” he told Motorsport Aktuell, a Swiss weekly. “He is very fast and extremely intelligent,” Austrian Wolff insisted, “but we have to give him the right environment so that he can realise his potential.

“We can’t assume that he will be on the second row in Melbourne, even if the car is capable of it,” he continued.

“I believe he can get the full potential from the car by the middle of the season.”


Wolff: It is too early to say if Bottas will race next year

Valtteri Bottas is waiting in the wings at Williams, according to Toto Wolff.

Austrian Wolff doubles up as a Williams shareholder and executive as well as team reserve driver and Finn Bottas’ manager. In the context of Romain Grosjean’s Monza race ban, the word in the paddock is that the FIA is also running thin on patience for Pastor Maldonado.

“Of course I don’t hope that Pastor gets more penalties, and certainly not a ban,” Wolff told Turun Sanomat newspaper. “He wouldn’t deserve that. He has certainly made mistakes, but he is aware of what has happened, and often the penalties have hurt him a lot.

“I don’t want to see race bans, but if that were to happen, we have a third driver Valtteri Bottas ready to enter immediately,” added Wolff.

Bottas, 22, has regularly practiced in Bruno Senna’s Williams this year.

“Sometimes he has exceeded our expectations, but we want to keep Valtteri’s feet firmly on the ground rather than have him thinking he is a superstar before he is a superstar,” said Wolff.

Wolff also said it is too early to say if Bottas will have a full race seat in 2013.

“No, we don’t know yet. We have only just begun to think about the situation and the timing of the decision,” he said. “We want to take (an overview of) the situation as a whole, rather than trying to do it a couple of weeks before Singapore.”


Wolff admits Williams’ 2013 driver dilemma

Toto Wolff has admitted Williams is facing a dilemma over its driver lineup for 2013.

The famous British team’s shareholder and new executive director told Brazil’s Totalrace he would “rather have three cars” to accommodate Pastor Maldonado, Bruno Senna and reserve driver Valtteri Bottas on the grid next season.

Finn Bottas, who is managed by Austrian Wolff, is hotly tipped to replace probably Brazilian Senna in 2013.

“Valtteri has been doing free practice but racing is something completely different,” Wolff is quoted as saying. “He is a great talent and we want to keep him, but there is also an economic side,” he said, undoubtedly referring to the reportedly EUR 30-plus million and EUR 10 million brought to Williams by Maldonado and Senna respectively.

Money aside, Wolff said Barcelona winner Maldonado, and Senna, also bring “speed and intelligence” to Williams.

“I would rather have three cars next year,” he smiled.

Wolff defended Senna, who has had a difficult 2012 but finished a strong seventh in Hungary last month.

“I am impressed with Bruno,” he said. “He is not only an intelligent and sensitive driver, he also learns quickly. Our concern is to support him in the best way possible, knowing that he has lacked some practice on the Fridays.

“He has had good moments and days when things have not worked, but in Hungary everything worked very well and I hope it was the beginning of many good weekends from now on,” said Wolff.


Wolff: Too early to decide 2013 driver lineup

Williams’ driver lineup will “definitely” remain in place this year, team shareholder and executive director Toto Wolff insists.

He joked that a change of policy will happen “when the sun falls from the sky,” according to Speed Week.

Pastor Maldonado brings millions to the famous British team from his native Venezuela, and he won May’s Spanish grand prix from pole. But Speed Week said his carbon-crunching mistakes – the latest during a demonstration run in Caracus at the weekend – are costing Williams a substantial amount of money as well.

Brazilian Bruno Senna has also failed to shine throughout the first half of the 2012 season, while the highly regarded and Wolff-managed reserve driver Valtteri Bottas waits in the wings.

Wolff, however, said it is “too early” to say what Williams’ 2013 lineup will be.

“The driver question has always been something that is very important to Frank (Williams), who has a lot of expertise,” he is quoted by motorline.cc.

Wolff said it is too simplistic to say that a more experienced pair of drivers would have done a better job at the wheel of Williams’ much-improved 2012 car.

And “Will Pastor or Valtteri be top drivers in the future? I believe so,” he said.

“So maybe the situation at the moment fits very well with the car, even though that’s something difficult to understand,” said Wolff.

“We have seen the driver (Maldonado) being very good this year in Barcelona — or was that the car? It’s difficult to answer.

“At the same time do we know how good the Ferrari is today? Is it as good as Alonso or only as good as Massa? We don’t know,” he added.