As a keen and vocal fan of Formula One I often find myself being asked why? What could be interesting about watching a bunch of cars going round in circles on a Sunday afternoon?
For years I have argued that the sport is much more than the action we see on track, and that my true fascination with the sport is far more to do with the business of the sport. Followers of this site will know one of the highlights of a race weekend for me is spotting new sponsors with teams then working to find out the story behind them.
Whilst news of this nature is something easy to grasp and communicate, I have come to realise that a logo on a car or a new person joining a team is only the beginning of a story, and what really intrigues me about Formula One is personality. I’m fascinated and inspired by stories of people who have found success in the sport that I love.
This fascination is probably why I found the UBS profile of Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, so intriguing. I knew snippets of how Toto came to be involved in the sport, but never really had an appreciation for his background or philosophy.
To hear about of his humble beginning’s, his pragmatic foray into motorsport as a driver, his success during the first .com era, and how his initial move into F1 came through Frank Williams desire to pay of the mortgage on his house gave me an entirely new perspective of Toto. More compelling is the explanation of his partnership with Mercedes Benz and the AMG Petronas Team. Rather than simply joining the team in a management capacity, Toto invested into the team believing that through having ‘skin in the game’ the will to succeed will be further heightened.
Toto goes on to explain his perspective on a modern day Formula One team, commenting that the days of a single individual overseeing every aspect of a team are a thing of the past. Success is seen through working as a team, recognising the need of having the right people around you, the need to communicate, and the need to learn new things every day.
The seemingly endless saga around who should lead the Formula One of the future often circles back to the need for a ‘dictator’ style of leadership. This is not something I have ever bought into, the approach does not work in business, why should it work in Formula One? The future of Formula One to me requires a balanced level headed individual capable of recognising the need for support from others. Perhaps in this film from UBS, Toto is positioning himself for that role?
So the next time someone asks me what it is about Formula One that I like so much, I will point them in the direction of this film and the personality it portrays.
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