In 1960, the Formula One World Championship was ten years old. The drivers included a few veteran racers and plenty of youngsters yet to make their names. The cars were beautiful but primitive, their pilots fearless, the dangers enormous. When, that season, the organisers of Formula One decided to give the point for fastest lap to the driver who finished in the sixth position instead, it wasn’t because they were worried about drivers taking risks. But when they made that decision, they took away the ultimate inducement to push. The point for fastest lap wouldn’t return for 59 years – but now, F1 has brought it back.
R&D in real-time
Every winter, Formula One retreats and reinvents itself. Rules change, drivers swap teams, and the cars mutate. F1 teams face the most relentless and compressed development cycle that exists. It is R&D in real-time, and the teams that get it wrong can be at the back of the grid for the rest of the year, and the years that follow. These detailed machines require small improvements that will not interfere with the intricate operating system. While development continues all year, and car performance ebbs and flows, getting it wrong pre-season is usually catastrophic.
Consistency and excellence
So the stakes are high. Each team will experience successes and failures from year to year. Teams that are unsuccessful for long periods will struggle to attract sponsorship and can disappear. Teams have swelled in size as technology has transformed the sport. Data defines everything. Ten years ago the frontier was wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics, now it is AI and predictive analytics. The old rules governing reliability and speed are changing, as real-world testing gives way to virtualisation.
Demand for precision
Rapid innovation puts enormous demands on planning and workflow. The lower and lower engineering tolerances involve exacting precision. And it’s a huge test on a human level, as teams are tested under enormous pressure, away from home for 21 weekends a year. The premium is on consistent performance, from technical excellence to perfect pit wall judgment calls. While in the old days an individual with exceptional engineering talent could make an enormous difference, the focus now is on leaders, teamwork, and data-driven strategy.
Parallels with business
The parallels with business are clear. As a team prepares for the grand prix, they must employ brilliant engineering with a keen eye for detail. Teams must learn from past mistakes and stay engaged in their long-term goal. When a team of mechanics heads out of the garage to prepare for a pit stop, everyone must know their role. They must be drilled, they must all be committed to achieving the same outcome, and they must be able to manage the weight of expectation. While a professional team in the business world will rarely have to concentrate all their energies into a few seconds of high intensity, the importance of bonding as a team and working together is just as profound.
At Team Bahrain, we share the same kind of commitment and focus. Team Bahrain encapsulates a particular philosophy of collaboration – as intentional in its own way as Formula One – bringing together people from across Bahrain’s private and public sectors to enable our workforce to be more innovative and move faster. This is teamwork geared towards problem-solving and supporting the business environment, ensuring that companies thrive. It means we understand that competitiveness depends on constant innovation, on working for each other, and on being bold. And that’s why we welcome the return of a reward for the fastest lap because it is both strategic and instinctive. And that spirit of seizing opportunities when they fall for you works just as well for business as it does for sport.