In the sport of Formula 1, the role of team principals can be compared to that of our heart and brain. The teams have technical directors to slot the cars into their required pace but team principals are the passionate horses towing the team to success. Many have arrived and departed but only few have made a mark. Everybody knows the names of these leaders have made an impact, or were simply iconic due to their skills. So here is a rundown of the top 5 team principals in the history of sport.
Written by- Alaakshendra Ganguly, Edited by- Tanishka Vashee, Janvi Unni
5. Christian Horner
He is the root in all of Red Bull’s success in this grueling sport. Apart from the obvious two years of domination in the sport followed by two years of not so easy wins propelled the team to great heights. Post 2015, the team has never finished below third. It is a well known fact that to survive in the world of Formula one, your team must be consistent. Christian Horner has always gone all out to get to that goal; Even if the acts are perceived as ruthless. The public opinion of him is a mixed bag but at the end of the day he gets the job done, that is making sure Red Bull remains competitive.
4 .Jean Todt
Currently recognized as the president of FIA, the governing body of all motorsports; he was the man behind Ferrari’s charge at the turn of this millennium. Apart from Schumacher who was the very engine behind Ferrari from 1996-2006, Jean Todt was at the helm of the prancing horses.
Brewing the power-guzzling beast Ferrari would need a pair of competent hands and they found those qualities in Jean Todt. How he conducted Ferrari like that comes with his history in motorsport. He himself was a rally maestro who helped Peugeot win the Dakar Rally, the WRC and Le Mans, among other things. So it wasn’t really a surprise when he and Ferrari charged through the field all the way up until 2008 as constructors champions apart from 2005 and 2006, when Fernando Alonso brought an end to Micheal Schumacher’s reign.
3. Colin Chapman
The only team principal on the list to have actually made the cars himself-The iconic Lotus 79 and the Lotus 38. He was the chief at Lotus when Jim Clark was winning for them. Colin is often regarded as the most innovative and gifted designers of his era, Dan Gurney invited him to the Indy 500 to share his innovations.
Chapman is not just remembered for his management skills, it was his commercial genius that he is often remembered for. The Lotus cars were nicknamed ‘rolling billboards’ as he was the first one to invite sponsors on his car. Many aspects of his engineering prowess are still visible on modern F1 cars in the form of struts, wings and a monocoque chassis.
2. Toto Wolff
The Austrian Master, as he is known, is not just great with his team on track, but is also known for his smart investments, both in drivers and in the team. He became the team principal of Mercedes F1 in 2014, when it was still relatively new. Preceded by the hugely successful Ross Brawn, who developed the roots of the team, Wolff took charge of Mercedes and brought them to the front of the grid.
Since then, Mercedes has dominated the sport, starting with Nico Rosberg winning an exciting 2016 season, when there were fierce battles between the top teams. But when Rosberg bowed out at the end of the 2016 season, it was clear that the risks of teammates battling at the top were huge. So Wolff decided to bring in Valtteri Bottas, who would always accompany Lewis Hamilton to the podium, but rarely steal it from him. Toto Wolff is also responsible for talents like George Russell, Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries.
1. Ron Dennis
The man behind McLaren’s huge success in Formula 1. He was one of the most respected people in the paddock, and the magnitude of his success is commendable. He was praised for creating absolute beasts for cars as well as managing two brilliant drivers. which is quite a stressful job these days, but he made the year 1988 seem like a fickle of a job with both Senna and Prost crossing the line in every race except for Ferrari’s home race at Monza.
He is also credited with introducing great talents such as the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Mika Hakkinen to the sport. He was the man who could not only challenge Ferrari, but also beat them.
Team Principals deserve their due credit, which they are getting today in the sport. Another team boss who did not make it to the list but deserves an honourable mention is Ross Brawn, who turned the business around. Making Brawn GP, a dying business become a world title winning team.