Mercedes Formula 1 Team Hires Williams Executive Toto Wolff

Daimler AG’s Formula One team Mercedes Grand Prix Ltd., which didn’t win a race with seven-time champion Michael Schumacher in the past three years, plans to hire Toto Wolff as executive director from Williams.

The Mercedes team said in a statement it signed a letter of intent with the Austrian investor, who had held the same role at Williams and owns 15.5 percent of that team. Shares in Williams Grand Prix, the only listed Formula One team, fell 2 percent to

24.20 euros at 1:10 p.m. in Frankfurt.

Wolff, who will work with team manager Ross Brawn and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, is to take a 30 percent stake in Mercedes Grand Prix, Daimler spokesman Florian Martens said by telephone. Lauda will take a 10 percent stake. Daimler holds the remaining 60 percent.

“As an entrepreneur, investor and motorsport manager, Toto Wolff has proven that this sport runs in his blood; at the same time he is also well aware of the economic necessities of the business,” Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in the statement. “Together with him and Niki Lauda, we will further develop our motorsport activities.”

Wolff, who joined the Williams board in 2009, said in the Mercedes statement he was leaving “on good terms” with the Grove, England-based team. Williams said in a statement the Austrian will leave the board but retain his shareholding. His responsibilities will be shared by other executives, Williams said. Wolff is a shareholder in HWA AG, the partner of Mercedes in the DTM touring cars series.

‘Long History’

“Toto has a long history with them and I certainly was not going to stand in the way of him accepting this once in a lifetime opportunity,” Williams founder and main shareholder Frank Williams said in the statement.

Stuttgart-based Daimler has owned the Mercedes team since November 2009, although it hasn’t won a race even with Schumacher as a driver the last three years. The 44-year-old German quit the series after last season ended on Nov. 25. Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 Formula One champion, has joined from McLaren.

Mercedes’s head of motor sport, Norbert Haug, left the team at the end of last season after 22 years.

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