It is a massively overused platitude, and yet Sunday’s Formula 1#RussianGP once again showed the value of collaboration. Collaboration allowed Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team‘s Lewis Hamilton to secure his 100th(!) victory in F1. Lack of it cost McLaren Racing‘s Lando Norris his first. Neither Lewis nor Lando wanted to come in for a tyre change when it started raining during the last laps of the race. Lewis could see Lando in front of him, Lando had Lewis in his mirror. There were only a few laps to go, and half of the track was still relatively dry. Lewis was hungry for his 100th win, Lando for his first.
In the end, it was Lewis who crossed the line first, becoming the first driver in history to collect 100 wins. And of course, as has become tradition, there were many who credited “the car” for those wins. But to me, those 100 wins are the result of incredible team work. When Lewis joined Mercedes in 2013, many believed he would never win another race. They thought he had lost his mind. But he believed in the team, and the team believed in him. Together, they built and developed a car that brought them success beyond belief. The best driver, with the best car, on the best team. That’s what’s going to bring you success in F1. I think this is the ultimate example of the value of long-term collaboration, and in interviews I’ve always heard Lewis acknowledge the fact that he couldn’t have done it without his team.
It is almost poetic that for his 100th win, Lewis was battling with one of the best of the next generation of drivers, driving for the team he left when he went to Mercedes. The adrenalin in Lando’s voice was audible when William Joseph, his race engineer, asked him if he wanted to come in. Rarely have I heard someone say NO in a more definitive way. Mercedes, on the other hand, didn’t leave the decision up to Lewis. Instead, they told him to come in, and it ultimately brought him the victory. The question is whether McLaren had missed or misinterpreted the weather data and if not, why they didn’t share it with him. I don’t have an answer. Perhaps they simply wanted to let the decision be Lando’s and not theirs. It would have been his first one, and it seemed like not being able to fight Daniel, and subsequently missing out on the win in Monza, stung a little bit. One of the core behaviours of collaboration is sharing information and expertise, which seemed to have gone wrong for McLaren in this instance.
However, we can all agree on the fact that McLaren have made an incredible leap in performance this season. They genuinely appear to have an amazing culture, in which collaboration is a key factor. Two important ingredients of high performing teams are constant communication with a focus on learning, as well as the famous ‘no blame philosophy’. I’m 100% certain McLaren will debrief, regroup, and return in Turkey, stronger than ever.