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Dean's Dialogue: The Business of Formula One

Marshall Dean Geoff Garrett speaks with Toto Wolff in a Dean’s Dialogue May 12
05.12.22

Toto Wolff, team principal and CEO of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team spoke with USC Marshall Dean Geoff Garrett in a wide-ranging discussion about all things Formula One, as part of the latest in the Dean’s Dialogue series, held on May 12, 2022. A record number of Marshall community members logged on to watch live and submit questions.

Wolff is an entrepreneur who became the managing partner of the Mercedes team in 2013, alongside wider responsibilities as head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

Since Liberty Media acquired Formula One Group in 2017, modernizing the organization and building a social media presence, the popularity of the sport has soared, especially in America, where attendance at Grand Prix events have doubled in some cases. Audiences have also grown thanks to Netflix’s highly rated “Drive to Survive” series, which pulls the curtain back on the drama and high-stakes behind each race.

Wolff and Garrett spoke about topics from human leadership, crisis management, and investment, to the business of F1 and memories of his friend Niki Lauda.

Watch the clips:

“The biggest impact was Netflix because beyond the sports fan, we’ve reached a completely different audience. An audience that didn’t know a lot about FI, but with Netflix they were able to look at the personalities that maybe weren’t Lewis Hamilton.”

 

“Culture is the immune system of an organization, and many of your students will realize when they go into a real job after college that within an organization, beyond the capability, beyond the intellectual firepower, there are humans, that work with each other, and if you can’t respect certain values, then it’s very difficult to create an atmosphere that is actually positive and generates return.”

 

“The Americans have socialized the sport in order to capitalize on it. By introducing a salary cap, they avoided billionaires outspending each other to hire the most expensive players if you are joining formula one today as an investor you know you can’t spend more than $140 million US dollars and you know that even Mercedes, the almighty team, cannot spend more than that.”

 

“Today there is more demand than offer, no team is for sale, no shares are for sale, and clearly this is an asset class that is interesting for investors.”

 

“I miss him very much as a friend. We miss him as a mentor, as a mascot, as the person who was able to be a little bit irrational and could put pressure on the team.”

 

“Staying humble is very important. So, I would never speak about my own leadership style because you’ve lost the plot if you’re talking about yourself. It is a discussion that happens within me. A reflection on how I can contribute, but never talk about it. It’s just not humble.”

 

“For me the analogy is, I move between the balcony and the dance floor. The dance floor is what I’m doing right now, trying to sort out the car, and the organization every single day, and the balcony is a place where I’d like to return, because it’s my main job, looking at the strategic direction of the team, what’s the sport giving us, having the political and commercial role, and hopefully I’ll get there soon.”