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Mark Gallagher

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Managing Director of CMS Motor Sport Ltd, Business and Motivational Speaker, media commentator on Formula One, co-owner of Status Grand Prix

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5 Programs By This Presenter

How a team culture fuels high performance

A Formula One team has to design, manufacture, develop and operate a high performance vehicle which combines technologies from aerospace, automotive and ICT. Compliance is essential, so too ensuring that the cars are safe, reliable and high performing. Deadlines cannot be missed; the Grands Prix which comprise the FIA Formula One World Championships represent series of non-negotiable deadlines.

Team work is key; the top teams have 1000 staff, only 10% of whom attend the races, so the high performance team work starts weeks, months and years before an event in the research & development facilities and factories where these fascinating Formula One machines are developed. Trackside, the high performance team work continues, perfectly exemplified by the pit crews who can execute precision pit stops in 2 seconds.

Developing the right team behaviour and culture is a key focus for the leadership teams. This means ensuring that everyone is accountable, takes responsibility and understands the importance of avoiding silo-mentality and embracing cross functional communications.

Alignment behind the team’s strategies and ambitious goals is a vital, so too having the agility to flex strategy in the face of constant changes in technology and the performance of competitors.

Using Big Data to Accelerate Success

More than any other sport, Formula One has embraced a data-driven business culture, particularly as regards its near obsession with marginal gains and continuous improvement.

Starting in the late 1980’s, teams began to develop the ability to gather, process, store and utilise information streams in order to better manage risk, optimise performance and guarantee outcomes. 

Data acquisition and analytics is now a cornerstone technology, enabling drivers, trackside engineers and headquarters staff to determine precisely how the car and driver is behaving, diagnose issues, resolve problems and speed decision making. As information flows seamlessly around the globe, linking car, team and factory, data security is essential, and robust systems ensure protection from multiple threats.

The use of simulators has transformed driver training, enabling systems to be learned, tested and developed in a virtual environment prior to real-world deployment. And with the advent of additive manufacturing, machine learning and AI across Formula One, the sport’s use of Big Data to transform all aspects of its operations is set to accelerate further.

Turning Safety into Results 

Safety is a first order priority in Formula One and the last 25 years have seen a profound change to the way in which the sport manages risk. Between 1950 and 1994 there were over 40 driver fatalities at events; there has been one since. This has been made possible by creating clear priorities as regards safety, mandated by the sport’s leadership and shared by the individual teams and race promoters.

Process safety has played a key part in this transformation, whilst a data-driven approach to understanding incidents and accidents, backed up by extensive research and development, has created cars capable of withstanding high-energy impacts, and fully protecting their occupants.

The safety and risk management story goes far beyond the racing itself, the employees and contractors of the teams benefitting from best practices shared between the industry’s HSE management. Furthermore, the sport’s governing body, the FIA, transfers knowledge gained from motor sport into promoting road safety around the world through its Action for Road Safety Campaign, employing the United Nations Safe Systems Approach and is a founding partner of the European New Car Approval Programme (EuroNCAP) which has transformed vehicle safety.

Driving Business Benefits from the Pace of Change 

Business models break, new ones develop, technology evolves, regulations are revised and customers alter buying habits.

Every industry is witnessing change, and Formula One is no different; as a multi-billion dollar sport it has seen unprecedented change in the last 20 years. The number of events has grown, shifting from its heartland of Europe to a truly global calendar which sees 65% of events in long-haul destinations. The media landscape is changing out of all recognition; gone are the audiences made up of families watching television together, instead global sports are having to develop products to appeal to all ages and demographics, across multiple digital media platforms.

Not only are the sport’s teams doing business in new places and in new ways, but diversification strategies are being implemented as business models evolve. The EU ban on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship in 2005 caused a seismic shift, so too did the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Today teams are selling technology solutions into diverse sectors including automotive, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and aerospace; a radical transformation for Formula One teams, now operating as technology providers to industry.

Above all, Formula One’s leadership teams have had to communicate, manage and implement transformation strategies, bringing their teams with them, and ensuring that they make the most from embracing change.

Formula One has a 2030 carbon neutral strategy for the cars, teams, events and World Championship  operations. It is abandoning all fossil fuel use by the end of 2024 and already uses AI in manufacturing and race strategy.

Formula 1 has been using petrol-electric hybrid engines since 2014, including the most energy efficient engines ever produced, and is innovating a range of environmentally sustainable green technologies which will decarbonise the industry and provide wider relevance to transport.  It has a very strong story to share about profound change in relation to abandoning fossil fuels and eliminating emissions.

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