Toto Wolff wants Mercedes to learn from Manchester United’s slump

Both Mercedes and Manchester United are going through a rough patch at the moment.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that he has been analysing Manchester United in a bid to avoid the slump the English football giants have experienced since 2013.

United won 38 major titles in the 26 years that Sir Alex Ferguson led the club, before the legendary Scot retired at the end of the 2012/13 title.

He signed off having led them to their record 20th Premier League crown, but they have not won the top-flight of English football since then.

They have gone through seven managers in the last nine years – if you include Ryan Giggs’ player manager role after the dismissal of David Moyes – with Erik ten Hag now serving as the eighth since Fergie’s departure.

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Former interim manager, Ralf Rangnick, said before the current season that the side were in need of “open heart surgery,” and this has been evidenced by their home defeat to Brighton, and their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Brentford to start the season.

Mercedes, under the new technical regulations, are themselves struggling for wins having dominated the Constructors’ Championship for the last eight years.

The German side have managed 11 podiums in total, seven of them coming in the last six races – signs of promise have been showing of late.

However, this does not change the fact that, ultimately, they have lost the initial game of defining what design concept would work best in the unprecedented changes to the rules, and they have been lagging behind Red Bull and Ferrari.

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The recent improvements, which have included five consecutive podiums for Sir Lewis Hamilton and a pole position for George Russell, may be a result of Wolff learning lessons from United.

“I studied why great teams were not able to repeat great title [runs],” the 50-year-old told TalkSPORT.

One of the conclusions that Wolff came to is that it is difficult to go into every season, having dominated for so long, with the same ambition and desire.

While the eight-time champions have continually managed this, it has not been easy.

“No sports team in any sport has ever won eight consecutive World Championship titles and there are many reasons for that, and what is at the core is the human,” he explained.

“The human gets complacent. You are not energised in the same way you were before, you are maybe not as ambitious.

“I often get the question: ‘How hard is that?’

“I had so many periods, so many episodes in my life that I would judge as difficult, that this is not on the same scale.

“I don’t think it’s challenging in a way because I’ve had much harder times in all of my life, not particularly in Formula 1, but this is actually within my comfort zone.”

Despite the lack of victories so far in 2022 though, the Austrian is relishing the fresh challenge of taking the Silver Arrows back to the front of the grid.

“I would say I’m enjoying getting it wrong at the moment because it’s the basis for long-term future success, I believe,” added Wolff.

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“We have had eight consecutive World Championships – that hasn’t been done in any other sport. And I think I know why.

“All these facets have come together to make things more challenging at the moment, but at the end of the day it comes down to physics and we got the physics wrong.

“We are still the same group of people with the same ambition, energy, tools, funding. 

“Maybe we need to tweak here and there because psychology plays an important role, but I believe this team has all it needs to be successful but with no sense of entitlement. 

“I want this to be a blip and not a longer-term phase of not being able to compete at the front.

“In a way we are control freaks, sometimes I feel like a football coach; there’s a point where there’s nothing more you can do and you have to leave it to the players on the pitch to get the job done. 

“That’s why when you’re there you have those reactions, sometimes you need to push the pressure release valve.”

Mercedes are third in the Constructors’ Standings but, after their recent upturn in form, they now find themselves just 30 points adrift of Ferrari in the chase for second.