Sunday’s Formula 1 #BrazilGP was an absolute banger! It had everything. Drama, intrigue, and an amazing comeback story with a victorious ending. Let’s start by acknowledging that not every driver could have done what Lewis Hamilton did, regardless of the dominance of his car in a straight line. Not everyone can take a 25-place penalty and continue to believe in a good outcome. Not everyone can handle the pressure of being up against Max Verstappen for thirty laps. Not everyone can turn that 25-place penalty into a win. Lewis showed us why he is a seven-time world champion. This was one of, if not his best drive ever. A great example of determination, grit, and perseverance.
This doesn’t take anything away from Max Verstappen’s performance. One could argue the turn 4 incident was worthy of a penalty, and I’m sure everyone and their mother will have an opinion on it. I am, once again, glad I’m not a steward. Max seemed very level-headed after the race, acknowledging they lacked straight line speed this weekend, and looking forward to continuing the battle in Qatar. This man is ready to be a Formula 1 world champion.
From a team perspective, something interesting happened with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team‘s response to the events of the weekend. Earlier on in the season, when Max first took the lead in the championship battle, there seemed to be some internal rumbling going on. They weren’t as united as they had seemed in the past. Something changed throughout the season though. Their messaging during this weekend has been one of ‘no matter what you throw at us, we will pull through and come out on top’. Team principal Toto Wolff was quoted as saying the team took many punches to the face over the weekend, implying decisions that could have gone either way were consistently being decided against them. The Twitterverse was rampant with Twexperts saying they were being overly dramatic and putting themselves in the position of underdog. I have a different point of view on that though.
A high-performance culture consists of several elements, one of which is a one-team mindset. From a behavioral perspective this can be defined as having a strong sense of camaraderie, alignment of goals, showing pride in the work that is done, collectively celebrating wins, drive, focus, and an external competitive orientation. Stimulating the latter isn’t always easy when things aren’t going well. It is much easier to point fingers internally, then it is to find a suitable external alternative. If you do manage to find an external enemy though, the whole team can band together to defeat said enemy. I don’t know if it was the FIA, the stewards, or even Red Bull Racing & Red Bull Technology, but Mercedes managed to channel their frustration, direct it outward, and rise above and beyond to secure the win this weekend in a way that will be the topic of many F1 highlight reels for years to come.