Toto Wolff vows to ‘protect’ Mercedes employees

The 2023 Formula 1 season will be the longest in the sport's history, with it set to include at least 23 races.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that he plans to implement a rotation system at the Brackley-based team, with the demands of travelling across the globe having become “much more stressful” over recent years.

Wolff actually missed two races himself in 2022 to reduce the amount of travelling he was doing, with the Austrian having missed the Japanese and Brazilian Grand Prix, meaning he wasn’t present for George Russell’s maiden win.

Whilst Wolff “didn’t like” working from home, he has admitted that taking two weekends off did potentially help him “regenerate”, something which he’s identified as being key for the entire team.

2023 is set to be the longest season in the history of the sport, with it set to include at least 23 races.

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Should a solution be found for the cancelled Chinese Grand Prix, then the upcoming season will include 24 races, with Wolff being aware that the team “need to protect ourselves” from fatigue.

Wolff is going to introduce a limit on how many races the team’s personnel will travel to, something he labels as a “hard stop”.

“We need to protect ourselves, and that’s not only me but the core of the racing team, in order to protect performance,” Wolff told GPFans.

“We need to protect ourselves from ourselves.

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“I can push through, each of us can push through and do 24 races, some of us easier than others because we travel better.

“For most of our mechanics, engineers, and marketing people, the travelling is much more stressful, so therefore, there needs to be some sort of rotation.

“What I will do is put in a hard stop as to how many races each and everyone can do, and you can’t go above it because we need to be protected from ourselves.”

With the new season rapidly approaching, Wolff is going to discuss with the Brackley-based outfit how many races should be the limit, with the system certainly being a “work in progress” currently.

“It’s something we need to discuss in the team, what is the right amount, what is best for the team,” said the Austrian.

“There are going to be more weekends for others and less for some, so it’s a work in progress.”

As mentioned, Wolff worked at home for two races towards the end of last season, something he discovered he wasn’t a fan of.

The Austrian explained how he felt “out of sync” with the team during both race weekends he wasn’t present at, with the “human interaction” having been lacking.

“For Japan, the experiment was one I didn’t like at all because you are sitting in the dark at home with the whole set-up, you can’t see people, you’re out of sync with real life at home so I’d rather travel,” assessed Wolff.

“But this experiment is something that helps me to regenerate.

“In my office in my apartment, I have the full set-up – intercom, all the data channels, and I have the live feed where I can interact with the team as if I was there.

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“Is it the same quality? Definitely not, because I am not looking into people’s eyes. I don’t see the cars.

“There was a situation where I asked Bradley [Lord, head of communications] and James [Vowles, chief strategist and new Williams team principal] why we were delaying to exit, and there was work on the rear wing being done, so I didn’t see that.

“And it’s definitely not the same quality of human interaction as when I’m there.”