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Formula 1 Team Focus

F1 Success Hinges on Precision, Focus, and Teamwork

18/02/2024

In Formula 1, the narrow margins of success demand absolute focus from every team member, both during race weekends and beyond, underlining the sport’s intricate nature.

Given the tight margins on the Formula 1 grid, maintaining absolute focus during a Grand Prix weekend, and even beyond, is crucial; because in this sport, everything is a matter of detail.

Narrow Margins Demand F1 Team Focus

Formula 1 Team Focus

“These margins are so narrow that anything less than perfect leaves you leaving the circuit with less than you hoped for,” confirms Mike Krack, the head of Aston Martin F1.

“If a mechanic or track engineer lacks hyper-focus, we lose; if a member of the design, manufacturing, quality control, or any of the other 20 departments isn’t hyper-focused, we lose. My job is to make sure we don’t lose.”

As the top of the hierarchy, Mike Krack is the one who must set the example in this regard. He must ensure that everyone remains closely focused while having to stay ‘focused’ 100% of the time himself.

“Creating a winning mindset starts at the top; I recognize that I have the responsibility to set the right example. On the pit wall, you are decidedly in the public eye, and your body language matters. If the team sees me scurrying away like a beaten dog, morale suffers. When things aren’t going well – and sometimes they don’t – it’s necessary to square your shoulders, lift your chin, and adopt an attitude that shows we will get out of this situation and fight.”

“As a member of our management team, I spend a lot of time setting broad work directions, to see where we need to focus our attention – generally, the areas that will deliver the most performance. And I signal what is expected from each sector of the team in terms of contribution. Once that’s done, the most important part of the task is to trust the people we’ve put in place. We try to identify strengths and weaknesses, but we can’t micromanage.”

Experience Balances Focus in F1 Dynamics

Formula 1 Team Focus

“The best antidote is experience. Those who have been winning for a long time are less nervous and less emotional. They are less distracted by the context. In the absence of this experience, the best approach is to recognize the existence of distractions, to ensure that people have the opportunity to accept them, and to work very hard so that the team has the ability to refocus quickly when it needs to get to work.”

However, there is a real dilemma in this “focus mission,” notes Mike Krack. Humans are not robots, and errors exist, which is, after all, what makes the sport beautiful…

“There’s an inherent contradiction in all of this. We want people to be hyper-focused, able to do their job without passion and distraction – but at the same time, we want to be a team of passionate, committed, and emotionally involved people.”

“We don’t want to turn people into robots. If we had 22 robots performing a pit stop, who would benefit? Neither the fans nor the team, which thrives on the adrenaline of performance. Ultimately, this is a sport, and people are supposed to enjoy it, but it’s a difficult balancing act: bringing passion to what we do, yet when it comes to execution, being able to remain dispassionate.”

“Our team, like all others, is made up of specialists. My job is to pave the way for them. We can set goals for them, ensure they have the necessary resources to achieve these goals, and create an environment in which they can focus on their work without distractions. We’re not here to tell them how to do their jobs.”

How to manage stress in F1?

Formula 1 Team Focus

To manage this day-to-day stress, Mike Krack thus needs to become a “super HR manager,” creating a corporate culture and an environment conducive to calm reflection and risk-taking.

“Numerous data suggest that innovation is only possible when safe environments are created and a culture that encourages people to pursue new ideas and try new things is promoted – even if they don’t work.”

“People who are too stressed are not creative. They execute but don’t innovate.”

“We need to provide the kind of environment that allows people to be innovative. Our new AMR technology campus offers many open and bright spaces, as well as forums for discussing and spreading ideas, to encourage this approach. We need to have the best tools and always be at the forefront of technology, but that goes without saying. Over the next few years, creating the right environment will be one of the main battlegrounds in this sport.”

Finally, it’s important to know when to disconnect – and to truly disconnect…

“For two weeks in August and one week in December, nearly the entire F1 community goes on vacation. It might be tempting to work 365 days a year, and many people would never take a day off, convinced that any time away from their office only gives an advantage to the competition. It’s a mentality we strive to discourage because work is not about producing but about achieving results.”

“For this team, we remain hyper-focused on realizing our ambitions, on and off the track.”

Formula 1 Team Focus. 2024 F1 Formula 1 Team Focus. Formula 1 Team Focus

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