Why Lewis Hamilton has Pastor Maldonado to thank for F1 dominance

Toto Wolff has explained how Mercedes, and Lewis Hamilton, might not have run rule over Formula 1 in recent years of not for Pastor Maldonado’s stunning Spanish GP win in 2012.

Mercedes have secured a record six-straight title doubles in F1, with Hamilton crowned drivers’ champion on five occasions to move within touching distance of Michael Schumacher’s most prestigious records.

The Silver Arrows were not dominant upon their return to F1 in 2010, as budget concerns held the team back, but Maldonado’s win in Barcelona with Williams – where Wolff was an investor at the time – caught the eye of Mercedes’ parent company Daimler.

It sparked an interest in Wolff, who would take over the team the following year and lead the development of Mercedes into the all-conquering outfit that suddenly appeared at the dawning of the V6 Hybrid era.

Wolff told motorsport-total.com: “It was about my external opinion. I tried to show things and give my assessment. I was just one year into my role at Williams. That year we had won a race.

“The question that [Daimler CEO, Dieter] Zetsche asked me was, ‘How can you win a race with Williams, and how we can we do it at Mercedes too? What resources do you operate with?’

“And in the end it was the same resources. It was only in a follow-up meeting that the idea came up, ‘Could you imagine doing this with us?’

“The change in the perception of the board of our project took place at the end of 2012, at the beginning of 2013. I was asked as an external person to make a comparison as to whether the organisation and resources of the Mercedes team could meet their own expectations in order to win world championships.

“My summary was that I said, ‘You work with a similar organisation, structure and resources to Williams. My aspiration at Williams is to be in the top five. There is a gap between your expectations and what is actually possible’.

“This decision had to be made, and that decision was made by Dieter Zetsche and his board colleagues at the time. In poker you would say’ ‘All in!’

“We have repaid this trust, not only with the success on the track, but also with the financial incentives that came with it, so the price-performance ratio of our commitment is very good today.”