OCTOBER 21, 2023

Wolff plays down effect of F1 absence

Toto Wolff is back in the Formula 1 paddock to restore order to his Mercedes team.

Toto Wolff
© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

All good, he said ahead of the US GP in Austin. "Just a ligament replacement.

Difficult to walk but it's ok.

While recovering from knee surgery, the Austrian skipped his least favourite races - in faraway Japan and Qatar in the Middle East - and kept in touch with the team via a remote setup in his home.

I have a pitwall setup at home, so I was completely plugged in, Wolff said in Austin. "But obviously when you're remote, you've got to let the guys here fly the aeroplane.

You don't look into the faces, you don't see what's going on emotionally, and you feel, in a certain way, detached.

And while the cat was away, the mice - Lewis Hamilton and George Russell - played. At Suzuka, Wolff's voice could be heard on the on-board radio issuing a team order, whilst in Qatar, Hamilton crashed into his teammate on lap 1.

Some sensed a link between Wolff's absence and the shenanigans, with deputy boss Jerome d'Ambrosio and media director Bradley Lord in charge in his wake.

No, I don't think so, the 51-year-old smiled. "We've laughed about that too in the team, but I don't think it had an effect.

I think we are racing more in the front now. I think we have a sniff, you know, about how it is looking to have no car in front of you. In any case, we'll never find out. I'm back.