F1 Drivers are Superheroes

1. When we look at the behaviors associated with resilience, then admitting being wrong is one of the most crucial behavioral factors. After yesterday’s race, drivers like Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and even Romain himself explicitly stated that they realize they had been critical of the HALO before its introduction, but have completely changed their minds. They expressed gratitude to the FIA for going through with it despite their objections, and are thankful it saved their mate’s life. They admitted being wrong, on camera, in front of millions of viewers.

If you are a leader in an organization and feel tempted to cover up being wrong: don’t. One of the superpowers of racing drivers, in addition to having balls of steel, is their ability to learn from their mistakes. But in contrast to growing balls of steel, anybody can learn to admit their mistakes. Make sure you set the right example, and create the psychological safety for your team to follow your lead.

2. In the race analyses I’ve done so far I have talked mostly about the behaviors underlying resilience. There is one aspect that I must admit has not had the exposure it deserves. That is mainly because it is not so much a behavior, as it is an attitude. It’s the ability to be ‘in the moment’. To keep your mind firmly in the present, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This is something racing drivers have down to a T. All the behaviors that I’ve discussed in previous posts, like creativity, flexibility, ownership, and courage, EVERYTHING springs from the ability to look at what’s happening in the here and now and respond to that, instead of an unknown future or an unchangeable past.

Yesterday’s race was a prime example of this attitude. 19 drivers watched replay after replay after replay of their colleague crashing into the barriers at top speed, his car cut in half and engulfed in flames. I counted at least 5 different angles and 4 super slow-mos. They watched these replays for almost an hour and once the barrier was fixed they hopped back into their cars, lined up on the grid, and gave it their all. The only way to do that, is to be in the moment. To not worry about whether or not Romain is really ok, or imagine the consequences of a similar crash happening to you. We saw that same resilience the Sunday after Anthoine Hubert’s tragic accident. To be truly resilient, you cannot succumb to ‘what ifs’.

I, like everyone watching, watched yesterday’s crash with chills running down my spine. I’m 100% sure the FIA will analyze what happened, and will take the necessary precautions to prevent something like this from happening again. It’s the way this sport, and everyone in it, operates. It’s why they are the ultimate example of resilience.