Austrian Toto Wolff, a shareholder of several motorsport companies including Williams, where he was also on the board of directors, has now been appointed director of Mercedes’ F1 team.
Both Lauda and Wolff are also shareholders of Mercedes' F1 team, along with Ross Brawn, who remains team principal of the Brackley-based unit.
Though there have been rumors that Brawn isn’t happy with the changes, all three execs remain committed to the success of the team. The rumors centered on Brawn possibly being replaced by McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe, an acquaintance of Wolff.
With these three new shareholders, all of them keen to own an F1 team, Mercedes-Benz now has the option to return to exclusively being an engine supplier should its team continue its poor performance, something the automaker did quite well prior to forming its own team in 2010.
Of course, if the outfit does well, a strong possibility with Lewis Hamilton onboard and the switch to new turbocharged V-6 engines in 2014, the automaker will have all the glory.
“With Toto Wolff, we have gained for our Formula One team not only an experienced motorsport specialist, but also a longstanding enthusiast of the Mercedes-Benz brand," Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said at the announcement of Wolff’s appointment. "Together with him and Niki Lauda, we will further develop our motorsport activities and guide our Silver Arrows into the next era.”
While not a competitive outing just yet, the 28-year-old Polish driver has started testing a Mercedes-Benz C Class Coupe DTM race car to gauge his performance ahead of a possible start in the popular DTM series.
The test drive represents his first proper outing on a race track under actual test conditions since his time in F1.