Toto Wolff revealed at the Hungaroring how his family came to Austria (Photo: Imre Földi)

 

Former team principal of Force India and Aston Martin, now of Alpine, Otmar Szafnauer's career and future were built on the successes of his family of American roots in the 1970s when, after several attempts, they could finally escape communist Romania for the United States.

Interestingly, it's not entirely unique in F1. The parents of former Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski also left Poland at the same time to settle in France, and Toto Wolff, who runs Mercedes, also has Eastern European ancestry. At the Hungaroring, we asked the team principal, who has Austrian citizenship, to tell us about the background of his Polish mother and Romanian father meeting in Austria in the 1970s.

"You could ask my sister, who is also here. I think she would be able to answer better," Toto Wolff said with a smile in response to the question from Nemzeti Sport in his Mercedes motorhome. “My father's family fled Romania to escape communism when he was just a baby. The story is the same for my mother. She left Poland in the late sixties and fled with her mother and stepfather to Austria when she was seventeen or eighteen, where she became a doctor. So that's where my parents met."

Wolff was born of this love in 1972, and despite growing up in Vienna, he still speaks perfect Polish thanks to his mother. Although he had wanted to be a racing driver as a teenager, he gave up his dream of becoming one because he lacked the right talent. So, he went on to become a successful investor and wealthy man. But he never left motorsports. He first bought a share in Williams in 2009 and later in Mercedes F1, where he has been holding a leading role since 2013 and has become the most successful team principal of all time in terms of World Championship titles.

Translated by Vanda Orosz.