Formula 1 team principal Toto Wolff has admitted studying Manchester United’s failures in order to improve his record-breaking Mercedes team.
Wolff’s record of eight consecutive constructors’ titles at Mercedes is almost unprecedented in the sport, with the possible exception of Sir Alex Ferguson’s record at Old Trafford.
The 50-year-old Austrian took over management of the Brackley-based F1 team in 2014, winning his first title since 1955 with Lewis Hamilton, and went on to repeat the feat every following season.
Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have won seven drivers’ championships combined, while Mercedes have won an eighth constructors’ crown, even with Max Verstappen winning the individual award last season.
Those eight titles are the longest consecutive streak in F1 history, with Ferrari managing just six consecutive championships, and now Mercedes sits third in the all-time list of titles.
That streak looks almost certain to end this year, with Red Bull and Ferrari much quicker than Mercedes, but Wolff doesn’t want to make the same mistakes as United.
The Manchester giants have won a record 13 Premier League titles under legendary manager Ferguson, but since his departure in 2013 they have come no closer.
It can be used as a lesson with Wolff discussing the club in an interview with the Financial Times.
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“I studied why the big teams were not able to repeat the big title [runs]he said in reference to Ferguson’s United.
“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 heart is the human.
“The human becomes complacent. You are no longer energized in the same way as before. You may not be so ambitious.
“I often get the question: ‘Is it difficult?’
“I’ve had so many periods, so many episodes in my life that I would judge as difficult, that it’s not on the same scale.
“I don’t think it’s difficult in any way because I’ve had much more difficult times in my whole life, not particularly in Formula 1, but it’s actually in my comfort zone.
Mercedes are currently 137 points behind leaders Red Bull after a torrid start to the new era of aero regulations, ending any fight for the Silver Arrows’ potential title.
They still managed to rack up more podiums than the much faster Ferrari, and Wolff says the learning process is important.
“I would say that I like being wrong right now because that’s the basis for long-term future success, I believe,” he explained.
“We’ve had eight consecutive world championships – it hasn’t been done in any other sport. And I think I know why.
“All of those facets have come together to make it harder at the moment, but ultimately it comes down to physics and we got the physics wrong.
“We are still the same group of people with the same ambition, the same energy, the same tools, the same funding. Maybe we need to tweak here and there because psychology plays a big role, but I think this team has everything it needs to succeed, but without any sense of entitlement. I want it to be a blow and not a longer term phase of not being able to compete up front.
“In a way, we are control freaks. Sometimes I feel like a football manager: there is a moment when there is nothing more to do and you have to let the players on the field get the job done. That’s why when you’re there you have these reactions. Sometimes you have to push the pressure relief valve.
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