WOLFF AT THE DOOR; British Grand Prix; Hamilton's boss reveals the cut-throat world of F1, admitting rival drivers were hunting for a seat in his Mercedes.. by turning up secretly at his hotel.
Byline: BYRON YOUNG at Silverstone EXCLUSIVE
LEWIS HAMILTON'S boss has revealed how rival racers made secret bids at his hotel room door to derail talks to re-sign the world champion for a record PS95million.
Ahead of Sunday's British Grand Prix the man who signed the biggest cheque in British sporting history spoke candidly about his life and the jaw-dropping three-year deal.
"We never talked to anybody else but Lewis, although there were many people trying to approach us," said Toto Wolff.
"There would be a knock on the door from someone asking, 'Can we have 10 minutes in the room further down?'
"I said 'no'. The same happened to Lewis."
Wolff refused to name names but Fernando Alonso (below), disillusioned by Ferrari's lack of form, had been desperate to squeeze his way into a pace-setting Mercedes.
Wolff admitted at times during the seven-month talks he feared Hamilton's decision to handle negotiations himself would backfire as they played hardball over contract details.
"You always need to be careful," Wolff revealed. "A famous Austrian skier called Anna Fenninger got mad and threatened to quit the sport at 26.
"They sorted it out but it reminded me professional sports stars are very special individuals.
"They function completely different to the average guy.
"They are very sensitive, emotional, driven, competitive and all that gives them the ability to just be what they are.
"It is much more difficult to discuss directly with the sportsman. He's mdw sp the guy I want to have in the perfect place, be happy and feel well.
"With a manager I can tell them to go away and come back with real terms. It was the same for Lewis too."
Now the deal is done Wolff has no fear his star racer will be distracted by his love of music, high-flying friends or a jet-set lifestyle.
"He is pretty well aware that what he does best is racing cars," he added.
Wolff has his own remarkable life story from humble beginnings to multi-million pound businessman and F1 king-maker.
His father was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was five and died 10 years later. He was brought up by his hard-working mother, but he dropped out of university determined to become a Grand Prix ace himself.
When it did not work out the 43-year-old Austrian plunged into the business world and did some savvy deals before - as he says - he got lucky with an internet investment in the 1990s that was successful beyond his wildest imaginings.
And he is not done yet. He said: "My story is only half over so I wouldn't count myself a success yet.
"There's lots more I want to achieve, including seeing Lewis become world champion again."
NICE MERC IF YOU CAN GET IT Lewis signed with Wolff and Mercedes - and hopes to build on his two world titles