F1 dynamics – team not aero

The Formula 1 parade arrives at Silverstone this week and it’s always an event to look forward to in the summer sporting calendar (unless you want to use the M40 or M1 at some stage during the weekend!). This season, the rule changes have led to more overtaking and, in the eyes of many, more exciting races. I personally stand in the camp that thinks the drag reduction system leads to more artificial races and takes away the defensive aspect of driving. I’m sure some of you will disagree with me. That’s not what I want to focus on today though.

My main gripe came after the European race and an interview that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button gave post race. Both drivers bemoaned their chances in the British Grand Prix and cited the need for upgrades to be forthcoming to help make them more competitive. Fair enough you might say, Red Bull seem to have by far and away the best car and mechanical or aerodynamical changes could help McLaren close the gap. My point though is that F1 teams are exactly that, teams.

Put yourself in the engineer’s shoes. They work their arse off in the factory to build the best car, to continue developing the car throughout the season, to make constant refinements to put their team’s drivers in the best possible position to win. They’re not stupid, in fact they’re the opposite. They can see Red Bull are quicker and they know they need to play catch up with them. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to hear those comments straight after the race. Perhaps an interview with the engineers after the race might have them asking questions about why the 2 drivers drove into each other or why Hamilton keeps putting his car into the wall.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to comment on the dynamics within a team without being a team member (in fact it is one of the things I find most annoying about sports journalism) but very difficult to do accurately. I don’t have any connection with McLaren but I just thought I’d give a perspective I’ve not seen anywhere else on this. For me, in any team environment I’ve been in, quality communication within the team is absolutely vital. My opinion on what I saw post race in Valencia was not evident of that.

Neil Welch

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