A key, balance role in a successful F1 team is covered by the Team Principal, in charge of making sure that everything before, after and during a race runs smoothly, coordinating the factory and mechanic work to allow the drivers to perform at their best.
Mercedes's Toto Wolff is among the most successful operating bosses in F1, with the German team winning seven consecutive drivers' and constructors' championships since he joined the team in 2013.
Wolff was asked where did he get inspiration for his management style, comparing his work with Lewis Hamilton, a driver with many passions and interests outside the sport, to Phil Jackson's with NBA star player Dennis Rodman, as shown in the Netflix documentary "The Last Dance".
“I think that he had a much more difficult life in managing Danny Rodman than I’ve ever had with Lewis,” he answered with a laugh.
On a more serious note, he expanded on what's to focus on in his position: “I think you can see it’s all about managing personalities, expending the difference of characters and, this is what’s more important, finding out what makes him perform and how I contribute best to the team’s result."
He also stressed the importance of "team", and focusing on teamwork and compatibility rather than fishing for the best regardless of interpersonal dynamics:
"Because you can buy the most expensive players in every sport and put them together, and it still doesn’t give a great outcome, we’ve seen it in sports in the near past. But putting great players together that work well as a team makes [them] unbeatable, and I think there is a legacy that he has created around the teams.”
A winning, record-breaking team like Mercedes inevitably attracts hate comments from rival supporters, as it happens in every competitive environment. But what's the best way to deal with such hostility?
The Austrian believes it can work as fuel, and encourage everyone to perform at their best to prove critics wrong; just like his driver Lewis Hamilton had said after being booed at the Hungarian GP, effectively silencing the grandstand involved.
Wolff returned on the Chicago Bulls comparison, recalling Micheal Jordan's behaviour facing a similar opposition:
“We’ve spoken about “The Last Dance”, you’ve seen how much energy Michael Jordan was able to extract from negativity, that made him go extra hard, and do extra good, and I think Lewis is a lot similar to that, and also me and the team either."
"The more adversity we face, the more resilient we become, the more competitive we perform. On one hand, it’s irrelevant, on the other hand even more you want to prove a point.”