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Motorsport | Formula 1

Toto Wolff © Gallo Images

Only results count, says Wolff



Mercedes is under pressure to succeed after disappointing results in three years since it rejoined Formula One as a works team, motorsport chief Toto Wolff says.

"The pressure for success is great, otherwise it wouldn't be any fun," he told dpa in an interview.

"That's Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes has gone into Formula One to drive for championships and win championships...That has to be the aim.

"Perhaps you cannot expect it right away but when a team functions then it generates an amazingly positive image which you can also measure in real figures."

The 41-year-old Austrian has succeeded the German Norbert Haug who was motorsport chief for 22 years, while Mercedes have acquired Briton Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, from McLaren to team up with German Nico Rosberg on the track.

How prepared Mercedes are for the 2013 season, which begins with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday, remains to be seen, Wolff said.

"The only thing I see are the historical results and what's happened in the few weeks I have been here. I would like to see confirmation in the first races of how the team works, how it functions under pressure before I can make a judgment."

Wolff has, however, already been impressed by the impact Hamilton has had on the team.

"A great guy. That once again confirms my own belief that there is a lot more to being a world champion than merely having a strong right foot (on the pedal)," Wolff said.

"He has social intelligence, he is good with people, he knows how to motivate them, he is a meticulous worker. It's a lot of fun to work with professional people. If they are also nice, that's even better. All of us in the team are delighted that Lewis has joined us."

However Wolff dismissed talk of the first year being a form of apprenticeship at the team for Hamilton following six years in Formula One with McLaren.

"None of us will be satisfied with a learning year. We all want the best possible results and are doing everything for this. In the end we are a team, we win and lose together," Wolff said.

"I don't see any problems ahead for us. It's a bit like a marriage. We want to stay together in good and bad times."

Wolff forms the management of the Mercedes Grand Prix team with fellow Austrian and former world champion Niki Lauda and team principal Ross Brawn. The new set-up will not affect Lauda's role as a television pundit, Wolff said.

"You cannot tell someone like Niki Lauda what or what not to do. That would certainly be the wrong signal. He is a three-time world champion," he said.

"You have to take your hat off to what he has achieved. Niki has great abilities. He is direct and sees things quickly. We want to use these strengths. We have an open relationship and can say everything to each other."

On whether continuing speculation on the future of team principal Brawn had been a distraction, Wolff said: "A Formula One team is judged on how quick it is on the track. Everything else is secondary.

"The car has been developed by (technical director) Bob Bell, (engineering director) Aldo Costa and the technical team. We can give our input as best we can, but at the end of the day it plays no role on what is discussed at the owner level."

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