Written by Caitlyn Gordon, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
This upcoming series "Core Characteristics of Formula One" seeks to take a look at the qualities that lie at the essence of the Pinnacle of Motorsport. Through past instances and famous quotes, writers will aim to explain why each characteristic forms the essence of Formula One. Continuing our series is Caitlyn, looking at the importance of teamwork in the sport.
“When you start out in a team, you have to get the teamwork going and then you get something back” – Michael Schumacher
Teamwork is a crucial characteristic of F1. Everyone must work together as a team to achieve success in the sport. Drivers individually compete for World Championship glory, and normally, their biggest rival is their teammate. This is a feature throughout F1 history, with one of the biggest rivalries being Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost during their time at McLaren together. Another notable rivalry was between the two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, their scorching battle between 2013 and 2016. Currently, the battle between teammates is taking place in the Red Bull team with double world champion Max Verstappen against Sergio Perez, who is hoping to hunt down his first world championship. However, working together and boosting the team's position in the Constructors Championship is also crucial, and involves working together to provide some results.
“When I win, when Max wins, we feel proud of each other and that I think is something good between us.” – Sergio Perez
A great example of teamwork in recent years is both Red Bull drivers working together to achieve a Drivers and Constructors Championship. The season finale at Abu Dhabi in 2021 saw the most exciting season finale in a while, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen level on points heading into the finale. Pole-sitter Verstappen didn’t get the best start, paving the way for Hamilton to take over and lead the race. When Hamilton headed into the pits, Perez took the lead and defended like an “Absolute animal” against Hamilton for several laps, bridging the gap for Verstappen to catch up. Hamilton lost over seven seconds, a crucial moment in the race. Throughout the 2022 season, Perez was seen helping Verstappen gain an advantage in races, to help add more points in his pursuit of the championship.
‘It’s the greatest partnership in terms of respect and teamwork from drivers that I’m sure has ever existed in Formula 1 probably.’
Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas seemed to have cracked the teammate code during the Mercedes’ dominance era. Lewis revealed how both got along so well, and his ability to learn from his previous teammates. He saw each of them as a challenge, and learnt new things from racing alongside them. Lewis opened up and spoke about how himself and Bottas worked so well. “We are in a sport where we try to win two different championships – we both try to win the Drivers’ title, but our job is to win the Constructors’ title too, so we have to work together. For the first time, I had a team-mate with whom I really communicated.” Bottas and Hamilton worked together to make sure they got the maximum points for the team possible. Their teamwork benefitted Mercedes for five years, winning a quintet of Constructors Championships, breaking records while at it. They are a prime example of teamwork in F1.
“You could look at the data, but his comments were faster so, once you learned to believe him, you could set the car up more quickly because he would communicate the most important pieces of information immediately.”
Michael Schumacher had a lasting effect on Ferrari due to his strong belief in teamwork. On his first day at Ferrari, he arrived a half-hour before any of the engineers and mechanics. He was sitting on the step waiting for everyone, and told them from then - At eight every morning, they would hold a meeting, to discuss the plans for the day and talk about the program. He also helped his former team Benetton, during his early days as a driver. Schumacher used to do a few laps, before returning and relaying feedback to the engineers, on possible improvements with the car. Schumacher was able to record all the information about the car inside his head, before any data could tell the team the issues. It significantly helped the team work on issues with the car more quickly. These skills were so unique and aided Benetton’s charge to the World Championship.
However, it is not just the drivers who can work together to bring in results. The people behind-the-scenes are crucial to making sure the car is in top condition and prepared, before and during the season. A fine example of how employees work together is seen on our screens every race day and that is the pit stops. About a dozen of the team run onto the pit lane, ready to change the car’s old, worn tyres for fresh, new ones. The speed at which tyres are changed on a Formula One car is a telling factor for a race. Every person knows their role, whether it is getting the tyre ready, or putting it on the car. It is all about the team working together and communicating with one another, to ensure a perfect pitstop. Every person working for a team makes a difference, and this can be a matter of winning and losing.
This is a core characteristic of Formula One, pertaining to the examples spoken about above. Teammates can work together to get the best out of each other, and bring home crucial points for their team in both standings. However, behind-the-scenes, mechanics and engineers need to be recognised as huge key factors in the smooth functioning of a team. Without their speedy reaction time to ensure pit stops are within only a couple of seconds, their drivers would fall down the ladder and lose much-needed points. Thus, without teamwork, Formula One teams could simply not function, and be able to compete.