Former HRT boss Colin Kolles tried to blackmail Mercedes chief Toto Wolff earlier this year, it has emerged.
A conversation between Austrian Wolff and a then-unnamed former F1 team boss was “secretly recorded” and then threatened to be used against him. Bild newspaper had said Wolff spoke negatively about his own boss, Ross Brawn, colleague Niki Lauda, and also Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche, whilst divulging details of his clashing co-ownership of the Williams team.
A subsequent report by the magazine Sport Bild said Wolff had been taped in mid February this year by former HRT and Force India boss Kolles, in Barcelona. That report said Kolles then threatened to release the details of their explosive conversation unless he paid a sum of money.
Reportedly, Wolff and Kolles have settled their dispute with the intervention of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, while Mercedes has obtained a court order preventing the publication of the details of the conversation. Sport1 said Kolles would not comment, and Mercedes also declined to comment. The German news agency SID said Wolff could not be reached at time of publication.
Mercedes has thrown its “full confidence” behind Toto Wolff, following reports he made disparaging remarks about his colleagues and bosses. The German magazine Sport Bild this week claimed Wolff, Mercedes’ new F1 co-owner and motor sport director, spoke negatively about Dieter Zetsche, Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda during a conversation in February with former HRT boss Colin Kolles.
Mercedes initially declined to comment. But parent Daimler’s head of global communications Jorg Howe has now been quoted as saying: “He (Wolff) has our full confidence and will continue his successful work. “We know that formula one is a shark tank,” Howe told Germany’s Sport1. “If you are successful, you will be pelted with mud.”
Info: GMM, Image: Daimler Media