Toto Wolff will always see Michael Schumacher as the most iconic Formula 1 driver, despite Lewis Hamilton being set to break his record for victories.
Hamilton matched Schumacher’s tally of 91 grand prix wins at the Eifel Grand Prix, so can set a new benchmark in Portugal this weekend and move clear of the legendary German. However, while Wolff believes Mercedes and Hamilton have the right approach to achieve many more wins, he holds Schumacher in the highest regard.
“I don’t think the record was on anybody’s mind, not him and not us,” Wolff said. “When you think too much about points, race wins or championships you’re getting distracted. I think you need to be as good and as close to perfection in every single session and then try to score as many points as possible in the race, and that’s why you mustn’t look too much on what could be and just concentrate on the task in front of you.
“For me, Michael will always be the most iconic race driver. I remember watching those years with Ferrari and Michael, and whoever would have thought this record could be broken? And here we go, 91 race wins.
“It’s something to be proud of, but not something that should trigger too much of a complacency. That risk doesn’t exist within our team because we relentlessly push for perfection and for tomorrow rather than looking back.”
Wolff joined Mercedes at the start of 2013 – at the same time as Hamilton – and says he sees no reason why the team can’t continue to provide him with the platform to set bigger records, having already switched focus to its 2021 car long ago.
“I enjoy a lot Lewis’ success as a team principal and as a team,” he said. “As I’ve said very often there is not one superstar in the team, there are 2,000 who contribute to the success of the team and to Lewis’ successes. We joined the team together, we established a strong bond and I’m very happy for his achievements, and I think there is more to come if we jointly work well.
“We finished (2020 updates) a long time ago. And that has always been what we looked at in the past . It’s a very thoroughly thought through decision because it’s not in every championship you can afford to close the book early, but the rules change quite a lot for next year and in that respect we decided – like in the previous years – to switch to next year’s car.
“This is why you can see the shift in performance between the teams. We are always having a very strong start and then whoever continues to develop is strong at the end.”