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Interview with Toto Wolff: How TeamViewer solutions support the Mercedes F1 Team

Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, has a saying: “The days we lose are the days our competitors will regret, because we learned the most.”

Watch: How Mercedes and TeamViewer are Fighting Back in F1

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After a season like 2022 it would be easy for Wolff, Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and their Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team colleagues to consign their difficult memories to the bin and move on. But that’s not how Formula 1 works.

The sport is all about relentless self-improvement and when you are a team accustomed to success, that suddenly finds itself winning neither a Drivers’ nor Constructors’ Championship for the first time in eight years, there is much to be learned.

One of the partners that helps them a lot in that regard is TeamViewer, a connectivity platform that allows clients like Mercedes F1 to remotely access, control and repair certain devices from anywhere in the world. The team have been able to improve their processes and at the same time save significantly on their carbon emissions, by not travelling as many people around the world.

“We enable remote connectivity in the best possible way,” says TeamViewer CEO Oliver Steil. “We connect everything that is in an environment, so every device and also every person to the same platform.”

George Russell, Mercedes using TeamViewer

George Russell, Mercedes using TeamViewer

Photo by: TeamViewer

This includes access to any kind of machine that is available, with the goal of improving efficiency and saving costs by reducing the need for humans to travel. Experts with knowledge in a central place, like the Mercedes F1 Teams’ headquarters in Brackley, are connected with a machine or analysis tool anywhere in the world – for example at an F1 race track.

Beyond this, TeamViewer also works in the augmented reality space where information that sits in a central office is made available to the frontline worker. Looking ahead into the future, in F1 this could mean engineers and mechanics, standing next to the car.

One can easily imagine the benefits of having a technical briefing with engineers at the teams’ headquarters in Brackley connected with an engineer in the pits wearing smart glasses and being as effective as if they were all on site together.

“I've seen the tools, but I believe this is going to develop even more and it's not only looking at something remotely,” says Wolff. “It's also having tools that enable you to learn faster. That will assist you to come to conclusions quicker. And I believe with TeamViewer, we will be at the forefront of this technology development.”

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mercedes

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

Steil adds, “You make the worker more intelligent. You enable frontline workers – workers who are out there in operations, repairing, maintaining or building something and you take all the information that is available in the back office and make it available on a tablet or on augmented reality glasses. And you use the camera and recording functions and A.I. to understand the environment around that worker.”

TeamViewer commissioned a third-party analysis of the amount of CO2 that their remote connectivity tools help their thousands of clients worldwide to save from reduced travel and the numbers are extraordinary: 37 megatonnes of CO2 carbon emissions per year. It is the equivalent of 7,000 flights from Singapore to New York of an Airbus A380, or the equivalent of the emissions of 11 million cars in one year.

In terms of how much further F1 teams can push this kind of technology to reduce the number of team members who need to travel, Wolff observes that the 10 F1 teams are, “limited by a cost cap, and that's part of making Formula 1 more variable and attractive. Obviously, you need to save money and you need to save time. Artificial intelligence, machine learning or working remotely, utilizing those tools is of an immense benefit in a cost cap environment for our emissions, but also in terms of how we process our work streams.”

Steil says: “Formula 1 for us is a fantastic testbed for our solutions. It was a great experience throughout the year to see how much can be improved from race to race and how much performance there is in a team working together. And that's certainly the piece that attracts us most because we like to work with teams, we like to look at processes of things, how things are being done, data is being analysed.”

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mercedes

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

While many would regard 2022 as a lost season for Mercedes F1, Wolff has a different takeout from the experience and one that he believes, on a personal level, will help him and his team colleagues to be stronger in 2023.

“You just have to know that this [F1] is a constant development slope,” he says. “And as long as the ‘share price’ is going up, that slope is right, then it's okay. But you need to really stick to your values. It's not always easy to do this because you start doubting and say, ‘Why are we not getting on top of that?’

“You need to give room to the doubting, too. So, in my opinion, personally, it was very interesting to be part of this. And I believe that my emotions, the mistakes I've made, the way I handled it in my interactions with everybody in the team, this is something that's going to make me stronger. And I've definitely learned.”

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