Toto Wolff given golden opportunity to sell Mercedes shares for £1bn and quit F1 | F1 | Sport

Toto Wolff has become almost synonymous with the Mercedes Formula One project since investing in the organisation and taking over as team principal back in 2013. However, with his 33 per cent stake in the team now worth an estimated £1billion ($1.26bn), now may be the time for the Austrian to call it quits and sell up.

The 52-year-old joined Mercedes over a decade ago, selling his shares in F1 rivals Williams to become a director at the Silver Arrows. Wolff paid an eight-figure sum to acquire his stake in the team and that investment has since seen his personal net worth soar into the billions.

According to Forbes, the Mercedes team has grown from a valuation of £1.07bn ($1.35bn) at the time of Liberty Media’s takeover in 2017 to an astonishing £3.02bn ($3.8bn) in 2023. This has had a knock-on effect on Wolff’s personal net worth, which was most recently estimated at £1.27bn ($1.6bn).

Around £1bn ($1.26bn) of that net worth is comprised of his 33 per cent stake in Mercedes, and there are multiple factors suggesting that the 2024 season offers Wolff a perfect opportunity to organise his exit from the team.

The most compelling argument for Wolff to cash out on his investment relates to the state of the Mercedes F1 operation. The Silver Arrows doubled down on the ill-fated design philosophy behind the W13 when launching their 2023 challenger, leading to a winless season for the first time in a decade.

Mercedes’ lack of progress became more and more concerning as the development race continued with both McLaren and Ferrari providing a more consistent challenge to runaway world champions Red Bull last season.

Even more worrying is the departure of Lewis Hamilton, who has agreed to join Ferrari at the end of the 2024 campaign as he hopes that a late-career switch can inspire a return to World Championship contention. With the star driver out of the picture and no contingency plan in place, the future looks unclear for one of the hegemons of F1.

The other factor that could influence any team owner to sell would be the relative lack of drama that the sport has generated over the past two seasons. The perfect storm of the 2021 title fight, combined with the success of Netflix’s Drive to Survive helped F1’s popularity to skyrocket.

However, with Verstappen winning 19 and Red Bull winning 21 of the 22 Grands Prix last season, casual supporters are being turned away from tuning in week after week. Another one-sided campaign could deal major damage to the sport’s wider appeal, bringing with it shrinking viewership figures.

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