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Wolff: F1’s popularity not harmed by Verstappen dominance

Mercedes Formula 1 team principal Toto Wolff insists that the dominance of Max Verstappen and Red Bull in 2023 has not harmed F1’s popularity.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, celebrates on the grid at the end of the race

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Dutchman won 19 of the 22 races, with only one victory escaping Red Bull and going instead to Ferrari.

Meanwhile, Mercedes finished a distant second in the constructors’ championship after failing to win a race.

Wolff says that despite Red Bull's success, interest in F1 is still high and that Red Bull’s rivals simply have to do a better job.

“The numbers that we're seeing, they are strong,” said Wolff. “We are growing on social [media], we see races that are packed and sold out.

“As a matter of fact, it is all around the spectacle. If the spectacle is not good our fans are going to follow us less. 

"But I think what I always say in the sport, I like the honesty. The spectacle follows the sport. And the sport, this is a meritocracy. Whoever is doing the best job wins.

“And if somebody is doing a much better job than everybody else, then they are winning 19 races.

PLUS: The inescapable conclusion from F1's slowing Red Bull debate in 2023

"And you can't stop that as a matter of fact, so it is us and Ferrari and all the other teams that have to do a better job in order to compete with Red Bull Racing, and we can't change anything.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the team principals Press Conference

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the team principals Press Conference

“Of course there is the risk that with a certain lag, people are going to say, ‘Well, I know the result anyway,’ like it happened to us with Lewis [Hamilton] for many years. 

"But we have just got to do a better job. And I don't want to wait until 2026.”

Wolff stressed that his team’s record in the constructors’ championship since 2013 remains an impressive one, and he expects the team to win again in the future.

PLUS: Is Mercedes experiencing an extended blip or the end of an F1 dynasty?

“I have a long-term perspective,” he said. “I have a board in our factory, which shows all the constructor world championship titles since 1958. And the table goes on until 2050. You have the logos, the badges for each of the years. And there are 27 open, empty badges.

“And I would like to look back in 20 years and say there's many more Mercedes stars. I hate retrospective views, but when we look back in 10 or 20 years, and we consider the decade, it was second, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, third, second.

“And when we look at it from that perspective, you kind of say that was okay. Now, from a micro view, there is one guy that won 19 races.  So that is of course not good enough.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

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