Toto Wolff defends F1’s ‘pay drivers’

(GMM) Toto Wolff has defended some of F1’s so-called ‘pay drivers’, insisting their disparaging image is unfair.

“Just name one driver who doesn’t deserve to be here this season,” the Mercedes team boss told

It is no surprise that Wolff, a minor Aston Martin shareholder, is defending Lance Stroll, the son of Racing Point and Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll.

Pointing out Stroll’s various junior titles, he said: “I don’t think anyone can say that he doesn’t deserve to be here just because his father is a billionaire.

“I think he actually suffers from that stigma and it’s just not right,” said Wolff.

“He’s not responsible for the fact that his father is successful. It’s actually impressive that a guy from that background chooses one of the toughest sports in the world.

“Honestly, it’s not a discussion for me.”

Toto Wolff Team Principal Mercedes AMG F1

Wolff also defended Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, another son of a very wealthy father who co-owns McLaren. Many believe Latifi has underperformed in 2020.

“It’s his first season,” Wolff insists, “and it’s nothing like ten years ago. I can’t even remember the guys who came into Formula 1 without winning a single race in the junior categories.”

The next ‘pay driver’ in F1 is expected to be Nikita Mazepin – the son of a powerful Russian oligarch.

“I think Nikita has been at the front in this Formula 2 season. He’s won a few races,” said Wolff.

“I think we’re in the best possible situation. Five or six years ago we had a lot more drivers who only drove because they paid. I don’t want to name any names, but you probably know who I’m talking about.”