For those of you well-rehearsed in the history of the Williams F1 team, it’s happened again: a co-investor with the surname Wolff is parting ways with team founder Sir Frank Williams.
OK, so it’s not quite the 1970s split between Canadian oil mogul Walter Wolf (granted, there’s an ‘F’ missing too), but the news – with the speculation mounting this morning ahead of the minutes-old confirmation that Wolff will take over Norbert Haug’s recently-vacated position as the head of Mercedes-Benz’s motorsport division – has come as a major shock to the F1 paddock.
Wolff becomes the second senior figurehead to leave the team in the space of a year, following the departure of Williams CEO Adam Parr early last year. In late 2012, Wolff assumed the position of one of the publically-listed team’s Executive Directors, and even stood in as team principal at selected Grands Prix during the 2012 season.
“I would like to thank Toto for his hard work, dedication and commitment to the team during his time as a Director of the Company,” Sir Frank Williams said in today’s announcement.
“Positions such as the one offered to him by Mercedes do not come around often. 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.
“I am sure he will be a strong asset for Mercedes and on behalf of the whole team I would like to wish him the best of luck in his new role. I’m lucky to have a very professional group of people around me and the Company’s Executive Committee will continue the work they have been doing to ensure a successful future for the business.”
As part of the deal, Wolff will land some equity in the Mercedes-Benz group, but Williams has confirmed that the 41-year-old will retain his shareholding (believed to be 16.3%) in the Grove-based team for the interim.
Given the obvious conflict of interest in which this would place him, one would surely expect he would sell his Williams stake in the not-too-distant future, or we may instead hear that Williams has landed Mercedes power in the coming years…