Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff speaks at Yas Marina Circuit, as part of the run-up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Executive Director of Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Toto Wolff, would love to see their sport get their heads together and reach out to touch the lives of the less fortunate in the world.

The hard nosed exterior of Wolff perhaps masks the philanthropist in him, who is vice-chairman of the Mary Bendet Foundation, founded in memory of a school friend who was a role model for a generation of friends. The Foundation strives to make life better for underprivileged children.

“Philanthropy is a very personal thing and each of us has a way to do it. The foundation is close to my heart and to give is also close to my heart. The ego is there as we are here to compete and win. But we have an obligation to give as well,” Wolff told Gulf News on Friday.

“As a sport, we have gained from society and it is but natural that we need to find ways to give back something. But, we have to decide when and where we need to give,” he added.

The projects of the foundation include improving living conditions in day-care centre, dormitories and playgrounds; creating joyful environments such as rehearsal studios; supporting talent by sponsoring scholarships and inaugurating centres for blind and handicapped children to better prepare them for life in everyday society.

The foundation is close to my heart and to give is also close to my heart. The ego is there as we are here to compete and win. But we have an obligation to give as well.”

- Toto Wolff, Mercedes team boss

“Recently, we transported by bus a huge group of women and children from Syria to Europe and to see the joy on their faces is something that can never be described. But that said, I wish we can do something together. Each one of us has an obligation to give,” Wolff said.

Back on the track, Wolff admitted that he is looking forward to working with the talented Esteban Ocon as the third driver within the Mercedes set-up from next season. “As far as he [Ocon] is concerned, the plans are pretty clear. He will be our third driver and we hope to do the tests with him as well. In addition, he will spend a lot of time in the simulator and he will be ready for 2020,” the 46-year-old Austrian said.

Wolff explained how he diffused the threat from Ferrari during the course of the season. “At the start, their [Ferrari] performance level was pretty close. We were doing well and yet Ferrari had the upper hand. This fluctuated over the season,” he offered.

“Definitely things will be different next year. If Honda goes with the Red Bull, they could be joining the party and could be competitive as well and there could be another challenge coming up. But in all this, we have enjoyed the fight,” Wolff admitted.